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Feds probing claims of bias against Arizona’s non-native English speaking teachers


The federal government is investigating whether a new Arizona policy discriminates against teachers who are not native English speakers, reports the Arizona Republic. The state’s education department for years has been monitoring the English fluency of teachers who instruct English learners, but in April it began instructing districts to fire teachers who weren’t proficient in the language. The probe was launched by the U.S. Department of Justice in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education. “I’m sure they’re going to find everything is fine,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne. “Teachers who are teaching English need to be fluent in English, and if kids can understand what they’re saying, it’s not an issue.” The probe centers on a push by state officials to get tough on teachers who lack basic English skills or whose grammar is considered so poor that it could detract from children’s ability to learn. Critics of the state’s policy have said that it could eliminate talented teachers who have a positive influence on students struggling to learn English—and that criticisms of teachers often are based on minor grammatical errors. Some believe the Arizona Department of Education has singled out Latino teachers when it has audited classes taught by bilingual teachers, criticizing them for their pronunciation, grammar, and not speaking English well…

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