6. The Politics of ELL Policy and Programs: What Does It Mean to Be “American”?
The Politics of ELL Policy and Programs
What Does It Mean to Be “American”?
Many people are drawn to teaching because they believe they will be free agents in the classroom, able to draw on their own skills and creativity to meet the needs of their students. While it’s true that the standards and standardized testing movement discussed in Chapter One have tightened controls on classrooms, the reality is that teachers have never had the kind of freedom that many imagine. At one time, for example, female teachers signed contracts stipulating they would wear at least two petticoats, refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol, and not leave town without permission of the school board. They were, in short, to model what the school board considered moral behavior. Later, science teachers were not allowed to discuss evolution, as the Scopes Monkey Trial famously affirmed. And in 2010, the state of Arizona banned ethnic studies courses in public schools, making courses in Mexican-American history illegal there.1 As a result, several texts were removed from classrooms.
Because what students do and don’t learn in school shapes their adult thinking and skills, various government bodies have always monitored curriculum and other parts of the school experience. This is true not only for the United States, but for all governments that provide public education. To take an obvious example, educators in democracies do not discuss possible advantages of communism, and those in communist countries do...
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