Arizona Superintendent: It’s A Big Problem If Teachers Have Accents And Pronounce ‘Comma’ As ‘COH-ma’

Late last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Arizona Department of Education “recently began telling school districts that teachers whose spoken English it deems to be heavily accented or ungrammatical must be removed from classes for students still learning English”:

State education officials say the move is intended to ensure that students with limited English have teachers who speak the language flawlessly. But some school principals and administrators say the department is imposing arbitrary fluency standards that could undermine students by thinning the ranks of experienced educators. […]

This is just one more indication of the incredible anti-immigrant sentiment in the state,” said Bruce Merrill, a professor emeritus at Arizona State University who conducts public-opinion research.

At one school, for example, state auditors complained that teachers pronounced “words such as violet as ‘biolet,’ think as ‘tink’ and swallow the ending sounds of words, as they sometimes do in Spanish.” The principal at that school acknowledged that teachers “should speak grammatically correct English” but said they shouldn’t be punished for having an accent.


The man in charge of this project, far-right Arizona superintendent Tom Horne — who is running for attorney general — has been going on national media in recent days to defend his policies. Yesterday he went on Hannity, and this morning he went on Fox and Friends. Yesterday he was also on CNN and argued that he isn’t targeting teachers with accents — just people who use “faulty English.” However, the “faulty English” he cited was an example of someone having an accent:

HORNE: We’re not going after any accents, including Spanish accents. It has to be faulty English. If students are being taught English, and they’re going to refer to a “comma” as a “COH-ma,” people are going to misunderstand them.

Watch it:

Horne is the same person who has taken an active role in ridding the state of ethnic studies classes, saying that they encourage “ethnic chauvanism.” Earlier this year, he took heat from Arizona Latinos for referring to venerated civil rights leader Dolores Huerta as a “former girlfriend” of Mexican American labor leader Cesar Chávez — even though she was actually his sister-in-law.[featuredcomment]Doc Shabbitt [Standing in for Hawkeye Pierce] says:

I had a German math teacher in school and he used to say “I zink you is in trouble” to me a lot.

I say “think” though.