Saturday, May 01, 2010

"Fluency problems"

According to this Wall Street Journal story,
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.
And Margaret Dugan, deputy superintendent of the state's schools, accuses critics of this move of "politicizing the educational environment." Here's her take:
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.
Forget about the policy aspects entirely for a second and think about this challenge: How do you determine fluency, degree of accent, grammatical accuracy and such here? Dugan's statement about being "highly qualified in fluency of the English language", for example, sounds ungrammatical to me — in the sense that linguists mean and in the sense that I would correct it in an essay or manuscript I was reading. As Bart Simpson said to the brother of Sideshow Bob:
You sound smart, but you're dumb.
It kind of reminds me of the old Labov article "The Logic of Non-standard English", available here via Google Books. (Is that enough of a teaser to get you to look at the article?)

Image from here.


Adam Ussishkin said...

Everything going on there right now makes me embarrassed and ashamed. Sigh...

Mr. Verb said...

Read Frank Rich's column in the NYT today ... he's completely right that this is a national problem and Arizona is the temporary poster child for it.

Hang in there.

Adam Ussishkin said...

Read it. Glad to be temporarily away from AZ, sort of.

Anonymous said...

How does a District "have a fluency problem"?