Thursday, April 06, 2006

Stick a fork in clear English bill 

The bill that would have removed from a classroom any instructor who didn't speak clear English for 10% of the class got wiped out in committee yesterday when the author of the bill, Rep. Bud Heidgerken of Freeport, replaced the entire bill with an amendment that formed a task force to study the issue.
Heidgerken decide not to push the "speak test" or other controversial elements of his bill, and agreed instead to allow the committee to amend those elements out of his bill. The bill, which passed the committee, would simply set up a task force made up of students, faculty and parents to study the issue further.
You have to get to the last paragraph to find that change, because the local media has been having far too much fun talking instead about the 'horror stories' of students who couldn't understand their profs. I liked best this story, though, told by our faculty union legislative director, Russ Stanton:
"Last semester my daughter didn't get a very good grade in biology, and when I asked her, she said she had trouble understanding the professor," recalled Stanton.

"The only problem is, I know the professor - he served on my government relations committee - and I can understand him quite well."

Stanton went on to say that the language barrier is part of college life and that these students will have to deal with people with accents the rest of their lives, because of the increasingly global economy. In other words, he said having international professors is good training for real life.
I have disagreed sharply with Russ on many issues and no doubt will again, but on this one he has represented my position well.

BTW, the AP article on this is utterly misleading -- you will never learn from it that the bill has been gutted.

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