In fact, as odious as the Korean finds this law, it was the perfect opportunity for the Korean to practice one of his guiding principles in his life -- If you don’t understand why people are doing certain things, you are the one who is stupid, not the people. And on some level, the Korean can understand what drove these people to pass the Arizona law. The Korean disagrees with that reasoning, but at least one can make a fair argument that the law was not (primarily) motivated by xenophobia, but by legitimate concerns over safety of persons and property.
But this article from the Wall Street Journal (no friend of illegal immigrants) made the Korean fucking lose it:
Arizona Grades Teachers on Fluency
State Pushes School Districts to Reassign Instructors With Heavy Accents or Other Shortcomings in Their English
PHOENIX—As the academic year winds down, Creighton School Principal Rosemary Agneessens faces a wrenching decision: what to do with veteran teachers whom the state education department says don't speak English well enough.
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.(Emphasis the Korean's.)
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.
The teacher controversy comes amid an increasingly tense debate over immigration. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer this month signed the nation's toughest law to crack down on illegal immigrants. Critics charge that the broader political climate has emboldened state education officials to target immigrant teachers at a time when a budget crisis has forced layoffs.
"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.
Margaret Dugan, deputy superintendent of the state's schools, disagreed, saying that critics were "politicizing the educational environment."
In the 1990s, Arizona hired hundreds of teachers whose first language was Spanish as part of a broad bilingual-education program. Many were recruited from Latin America.
Then in 2000, voters passed a ballot measure stipulating that instruction be offered only in English. Bilingual teachers who had been instructing in Spanish switched to English.
Ms. Dugan said some schools hadn't been complying with the state law that made English the only language in the classroom. "Our job is to make sure the teachers are highly qualified in fluency of the English language. We know districts that have a fluency problem," she said.
Arizona's enforcement of fluency standards is based on an interpretation of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. That law states that for a school to receive federal funds, students learning English must be instructed by teachers fluent in the language. Defining fluency is left to each state, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education said.
"The teacher obviously must be fluent in every aspect of the English language," said Adela Santa Cruz, director of the Arizona education-department office charged with enforcing standards in classes for students with limited English.
The education department has dispatched evaluators to audit teachers across the state on things such as comprehensible pronunciation, correct grammar and good writing.
Teachers that don't pass muster may take classes or other steps to improve their English; if fluency continues to be a problem, Ms. Santa Cruz said, it is up to school districts to decide whether to fire teachers or reassign them to mainstream classes not designated for students still learning to speak English. However, teachers shouldn't continue to work in classes for non-native English speakers.
About 150,000 of Arizona's 1.2 million public-school students are classified as English Language Learners. Of the state's 247 school districts, about 20 have high concentrations of such students, the largest number of which are in the younger grades.
Nearly half the teachers at Creighton, a K-8 school in a Hispanic neighborhood of Phoenix, are native Spanish speakers. State auditors have reported to the district that some teachers pronounce words such as violet as "biolet," think as "tink" and swallow the ending sounds of words, as they sometimes do in Spanish.
These teachers "are very good educators who understand the culture" of their students," said Ms. Agneessens, Creighton's principal. "Teachers should speak grammatically correct English," she acknowledged, but added, "I object to the nuance of punishment for accent."
"It doesn't matter to me what the accent is; what matters is if my children are learning," said Luis Tavarez, the parent of sixth- and eighth-graders at Creighton.
"Student achievement and growth should inform teacher evaluations, not their accents," said Kent Scribner, superintendent of the Phoenix Union High School District.
John Hartsell, spokesman for the Arizona Education Association, a union that represents 34,000 teachers, said the recent focus on fluency was a distraction from more important issues. "This is not the time to be pressuring districts to deal with accents that have nothing to do with quality teaching; we are trying to figure out how to best fund operations" because of cuts in education, he said.
State education officials deny any discrimination against teachers, saying they are acting in students' best interest.
Ms. Santa Cruz, the state official, said evaluators weren't looking at accents alone. "We look at the best models for English pronunciation," she said. "It becomes an issue when pronunciation affects comprehensibility."
"Teachers should speak good grammar because kids pick up what they hear," said Johanna Haver, a proponent of English-language immersion who serves as an adviser to Arizona educators. "Where you draw the line is debatable."
After evaluation and despite completing an accent-reduction course, some teachers at Creighton were ruled still unsuited to teaching English-language learners.
That poses a dilemma for Ms. Agneessens, the principal. In kindergarten, three of four classes are for English-language learners. Two of those three classes are taught by immigrants whose English didn't pass muster.
Ms. Agneessens said she was trying to find a way to retain those two teachers by shifting them into classrooms not designated for English-language learners, even if that meant teaching a different grade. Both teachers declined to comment for this article.
Recently, she informed one experienced kindergarten teacher that she would have to be reassigned to a mainstream class in a higher grade in the fall, if she wished to remain at the school.
"We both cried," she said.
WHAT. THE. FUCK.
The Korean's first point:
It has become clear that "Arizona" (used as a shorthand for the people who make the decisions in Arizona and the majority of the electorate that backs those people,) as of now, will attempt exploit every little loophole in the laws to screw over the people Arizona does not like. The No Child Left Behind Act has a common sense requirement that in order to teach English-learning students, the teacher must be fluent in English. The requirement was obviously not designed to demand the teachers to lose their accent. But Arizona has taken one concept -- "fluent" -- and stretched it beyond recognition. Most Dutch people speak English with ease, although with an accent. Now, Dutch people would be considered fluent in English everywhere in the world, except in Arizona school districts.
This willingness to twist the words of the NCLB is highly relevant for the way the new immigration enforcement law will be implemented. The supporters of the law point to the provision that require "lawful contact" for the police to demand a proof of citizenship from a person, as well as the provision that race or national origin cannot be the sole consideration for making such a demand. Relying on this, supporters of the law characterize as if the new law will only come to play at a traffic stop after an infraction or following an arrest. (For example, the author of the linked New York Times op-ed uses the example of a minivan pulled over for speeding, in which the police sees a dozen Mexicans packed in without identifications.)
Well, shit load of good those provisions will do now. Arizona just displayed the willingness to stretch one law -- the federal law that it did not author -- beyond the breaking point. How can one expect that Arizona will strictly adhere to the most disciplined interpretation of the law that it wrote for itself? If Arizona intended to screw over immigrants -- legal and illegal alike -- there are ample means to do so within the meaning of the new law. And that's what really makes this new law so odious.
Here is an example of how that law can be enforced. A "lawful contact" include stop-and-frisks, otherwise known as "Terry stops." A police officer can lawfully stop-and-frisk anyone without probable cause, as long as the officer has a reasonable suspicion that a person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime. And the crime can be any crime, including misdemeanors. And here is something everyone should know about misdemeanors -- if all misdemeanor laws were strictly applied, you can be thrown in jail for breathing. (For example, did you know that using a leaf blower in Santa Monica was a misdemeanor?)
Here is an example. You know what's a misdemeanor in Arizona? Loitering, which is so helpfully defined as being "present in a public place and in an offensive manner." So, under the Arizona law, the police can stop-and-frisk anyone, and demand a proof of citizenship in the process, as long as the police reasonably suspects that the person was, is, or is about to be present in a public place and in an offensive manner. And there are minimal restrictions as to what "offensive" means here.
In this context, the prohibition of using race or national origin as the sole consideration is completely meaningless, because the police can only needs to prove that he had a reasonable suspicion that someone was about to loiter. In other words, the police in Arizona is now given a blank check anyone produce a proof of residence. Now, Arizona is demanding the police to go hunt down illegal immigrants. Gee, the Korean wonders if they will stop-and-frisk any white people for "loitering"?
Of course, this type of search is unreasonable, and relies on the most strained interpretation of the law. And that's the Korean' point here -- Arizona is ready and willing to twist the law (which it conveniently wrote for itself with broad authorization and hollow restrictions) in a way that will screw over immigrants.
The Korean's second point:
As the Korean previously stated in the post about his process of learning English at age 16, he believes that grammar is one of the most -- if not the most -- important thing to learn in a language. But on the flip side, the Korean does not believe for one second that having an accentless speech is important. In fact, when the Korean put up the post about learning English at age 16, a number of Korean Americans emailed the Korean, asking, "Your speech has no accent at all. I came to America late, like you. How do I get rid of my accent?"
The Korean always replied: "Don't worry about the accent! There are some ways to get rid of it, but there is no need to kill yourself doing it. Having an accent did not stop Henry Kissinger from becoming the Secretary of State, nor did it stop Arnold Schwarznegger from being the governor of California. America is a fair place; as long as you can communicate, you can succeed as long as you can show you are smart, educated and hard-working."
Now the Korean feels like an idiot for having believed in his country enough to give that kind of advice. If rank xenophobia was thinly veiled in the Arizona immigration enforcement law, it is completely naked in Arizona's accent-related demotion of teachers. With the immigration enforcement law, there is at least a possibility of semi-plausible excuses -- illegal immigration is illegal, some illegal immigrants have known to commit crimes, illegal immigrants are a burden on the American society, and so on and so forth.
But none of those excuses applies in this situation. The accented teachers are lawful residents of Arizona. They committed no crime. They already have a job that requires having a degree and passing a test, and are not a drain on the welfare. They are not even accused of being bad teachers. In fact, some of them are praised for being "very good educators" by their principal. No matter -- if you have an accent, you cannot teach English-learning students. Arizona has clearly stated: "Having an accent is bad, and we don't like that. So you cannot teach the next generation who is learning English, because we don't want you transmit that disease you have." With this accent-punishment, Arizona effectively declared that Americans who speak English with an accent are second-class citizens. And what animates Arizona is clearly revealed: it is xenophobia, xenophobia, xenophobia.
Some supporters of Arizona's immigration enforcement law speak of how they are in favor of legal immigration, while opposed to illegal immigration, and Arizona is only acting to curb illegal immigration. Bullshit. Arizona hates immigrants altogether, legal or illegal. It hates anyone who looks different and speaks differently. If that was not obvious before, it is obvious now.
Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at firstname.lastname@example.org.