Friday, May 07, 2010

Dispatch From The Inferno State: Ethnic Cleansing In Arizona Public Schools


Spanish accent, you’re fired. Sound like Ward Burton? No problema!

-by Doug Kahn

The Wall Street Journal had the initial report on the firing of teachers, on April 30th. I talked to people in line at the Joe Biden/Democratic Heritage Dinner here on May 1st, and got an unexpected serving of attitude from more than one person when I mentioned I’d read about it. I was wearing the button I got at the State Capitol protest earlier in the day. Almost everyone in line who saw it was spontaneously talking about SB1070, and very critically, as we waited for the security line to move. A few made frosty remarks, annoyed, as if I were inventing a new outrage. 

It wasn’t the defensive attitude I’ve noticed among Democrats here about the SB1070 issue. (They’re feeling beset because people are, after all, boycotting Arizona, not Arizona Republicans and/or racists.) It seemed more like the grim, who’s-this-troublemaker stare I got when I started videotaping the Doylestown Township Supervisors’ meetings in 2001. That was Pennsylvania suburban Republicans, though, not loyal Arizona Democrats contributing to the Party campaign account. 

Democrats here want me to support the state party, and their legislative candidates (many of them Blue Dog types), even though their standard-bearer, AG Terry Goddard, won’t come out and directly oppose Joe Arpaio’s goons. I guess he’s waiting for an indictment from one of the federal grand juries, so he can avoid antagonizing Republicans and Independents who might vote for him in the Governor’s race. I think it’s a legitimate question: exactly what does a Democrat stand for, if not protecting the defenseless against institutional racism and oppression?
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano (former AZ Governor and before that Attorney General) could, if she wanted to, immediately cancel Immigration and Customs Enforcement certification for Arpaio’s lockup. Current Attorney General Terry Goddard could, if he wanted to, indict Joe and his goons for a number of things. If you’re saying to yourself ‘Kahn doesn’t know what he’s talking about’: let’s check back together when United States Attorney Dennis Burke, someone with a real appreciation for the Rule of Law, brings charges against Joe. 

I’ve got another prediction: when Arpaio gets indicted, Goddard is going to say he would have spoken out against Arpaio’s MCSO, but it would have been unethical because he’s the State Attorney General. You understand, don’t you? The state’s chief law enforcement officer is prevented from doing anything about a criminal running a fascist militia because said protector of the public is thinking about getting ready to start preparing a process of drafting a plan to do something about it. For 18 years. Bill Clinton appointed Janet Napolitano US Attorney for the District of Arizona in 1993. Elected AZ Attorney General in 1998. Elected Governor in 2002, when Goddard was elected Attorney General. The current year is 2010. 

Today a good-hearted and hard-working local Democrat, someone who’s doing everything she can to make changes here, said she was confident that Goddard would, as soon as he’s elected Governor, step up and do something about Arpaio. But shouldn’t he keep quiet about it during the campaign, so as not to antagonize certain voters? 

No. He should not keep quiet. His silence is shameful. It’s a dark shadow on the reputation of every Democrat in the State of Arizona. 

I’m not much of a writer. Mike Lux explains this better: 

“Democrats need to pull themselves together, do the right thing, and then confidently sell what they have done to the American people, not give in to the fear mongering.”
The Arizona Department of Latino Removal
The State Superintendent of Education is sending around ethnicity inspectors, with the aim of ridding English classes of teachers who aren’t ‘fluent’ in speaking English. I’m sorry, I mean, to fire Hispanics who sound like furriners. When the Democrat running for Governor is gutless, this is the kind of thing that goes unanswered.
How do you get from the idea of English teachers being ‘fluent’ in English (and Math teachers knowing math etc.) to firing teachers who, by some unwritten and therefore arbitrary standard, have an accent that makes them difficult to understand? Hop on Interstate 10 and drive from the United States of America over to the Inferno State.  

First of all, I think you have to pay careful attention to the words and phrases people are using. What does ‘fluent’ mean, anyway? “Able to express oneself readily and effortlessly.” (From the American Heritage Dictionary.)
“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.

[Dugan, you have a grammar problem yourself: ‘qualified in fluency of the English language’? Go stand in the corner.] 

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.

[Crib notes for AG Goddard: just cheat off this statement from Superintendent Kent Scribner, Phoenix Union High School District: "Student achievement and growth should inform teacher evaluations, not their accents.”] 

As to Dugan’s statement about politicizing the educational environment. Margaret Dugan is a candidate for State Superintendent of Education. Let’s have a look at Deputy Dugan’s website. 

3 recent Facebook status updates:

April 11: “Great time at the Paradise Valley Women’s Republican Club Forum on Saturday.”

April 13: “What a great night I had last night at the Ronald Reagan Republican Action Club in Sun City.”

April 15: “Terrific time at Saddlebrooke Republican Club yesterday. I was able to get many signatures and collect 5 dollar contributions to help my campaign.” 


May 4 2010, 6:30pm: Scottsdale Tea Party -- Fox Sports Grill, 16203 N Scottsdale Road

May 6, 6:30pm: Daisy Mountain Tea Party Patriots Meeting -- 3901 W Pioneer Road, Phoenix
Dugan’s boss is Tom Horne, the current State Superintendent. He’s running for AZ Attorney General.
Linda Valdez, from her column in the Arizona Republic: 
“They’re off and running to the hard right in the GOP contest for Arizona attorney general.
Would-be AG Tom Horne is using his position as Superintendent of Public Instruction to show he’s tough as tough can be on Arizona’s favorite scapegoat: illegal immigrants. Even pint-sized ones.
Associated Press reports that he’s telling Ajo Unified School District to return nearly $1.2 million in state funding because he says the schools provided free education to Mexican students who don’t live in Arizona.”

Pop quiz for Terry Goddard, and for every Democratic candidate for office in the state of Arizona. Who said this:

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

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At 2:32 PM, Blogger Bula said...


You need to look at both sides. My Mother taught 3 grade at an elementary school in Chicago. 30+ years. Nearly all Hispanic students. The last couple of years before she retired, the Principle gave her a job tutoring the Spanish speaking children in English. The Hispanics were furious. They did not want a non-Hispanic in that position.

At 6:23 PM, Blogger Doug Kahn said...

I wasn't there, but of course believe what you're saying, up until the last two sentences.

'The Hispanics' and 'They': there is no 'they'. I guess you mean 'Some of the parents of Spanish-speaking children were furious.'

I make an exception and criticize my own group, because we substantially control the political process. White men in particular need to speak up and remove Joe Arpaio from his position of responsibility, because he continues to abuse his authority in a criminal way.

At 5:48 AM, Blogger Bula said...

My mistake Doug. I should of said the parents of Spanish speaking children who were involved with the school, and the Spanish speaking staff.

Did that make them any less racist?


Do we need to be a more tolerant and assimilated society?


At 9:38 AM, Blogger Doug Kahn said...

And I should have said that I respect and appreciate the sacrifices your Mom and all teachers make by serving us and our kids. They don't get paid enough, and have to take it from both sides (administration and parents) in many cases. I wish I had been more sensitive in my first comment.


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