The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

93° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Arizona continues its discriminatory acts against Latinos with its war on accents

    Arizona habitually gets itself labeled discriminatory. As if Senate Bill 1070 and attempts to stop ethnic studies courses weren’t proof enough that minorities can’t be treated fairly, now Arizona is trying to weed out their accents too.

    Guadalupe V. Aguayo, an elementary school teacher in a central Phoenix school district, was told she couldn’t teach students who were learning English because she had a heavy accent when speaking English. Aguayo, an immigrant from northern Mexico, learned to speak English as an adult.

    The state reportedly used to send in monitors to assess the speech of school instructors. Those who pronounced words differently than the reviewer would prefer were written up. For example, instructors who pronounced “the” as “da,” “another” as “anuder” or “lives here” as “leeves here” were written up.

    As a result of being limited in who she could teach, Aguayo filed a complaint against the state with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

    The state has since stopped its program of sending in speech monitors, but still defends its actions. The state claims it was simply doing this in accordance with the infamous No Child Left Behind Act. The act requires that only instructors fluent in English be permitted to teach students learning English.

    In all honesty, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The vendetta that Arizona has against the Latino population is simply unacceptable. An accent has nothing to do with one’s understanding of a language. Anyone who has even dabbled in a foreign language knows that completely eliminating your accent is nearly impossible. To expect otherwise is ignorant.

    Do red-blooded American citizens not have their own regional dialects that result in different pronunciations? Is forming the contraction “y’all” indicative of not knowing the English language? If so, there is a plethora of teachers in the Southern region of the U.S. who seem to be lacking proficiency in English. What about pronouncing “harbor” as “ha-buh”? Does that qualify someone as not proficient in English? If it does, then just about every instructor in Boston shouldn’t be teaching students who are learning English.

    Speaking with an accent doesn’t mean you can’t speak a language. Accents come as a part of a culture, they’re inescapable and punishing people for them makes no sense. Arizona has had an ugly history of regressing people’s culture, so in essence we shouldn’t be stunned. At the end of the day, Arizona is simply pursuing its never-ending discriminatory campaign against Latinos. That doesn’t, however, mean we should just stand idly by while these hatemongers continue to try and cast out minorities like the Latino population.

    ­ —Storm Byrd is the Perspectives editor. He can be reached at

    More to Discover
    Activate Search