With a new law taking effect this week mandating English fluency for all undergraduate instructors across the state, the University has been forced to develop stricter procedures in its hiring of graduate teaching assistants, according to University administrators. The University's new standards for English fluency in the classroom will require that the instructor, "must always be intelligible to a non-specialist in the topic under discussion, despite an accent or occasional grammatical errors." The new procedures will affect only those tutors and members of the teaching staff hired on or after July 1, 1991. But the new policies have not met with universal praise; some students call the policy a well-deserved requirement of instructors while others decry it as cultural intolerance. "I go to one of the best schools in the nation," said College senior Karen Adelstein. "I should be able to get the best teaching in the nation -- and that includes T.A.s." But Elizabeth Hunt, Vice Chair for Graduate Interschool Activities Council, warned that the new procedures may perpetuate a university-wide feeling of xenophobia. "I think most of the phobias have to do with cultural problems," Hunt said earlier this week. "I think the language problem is almost universally exaggerated and overrated." According to Frank Warner, the undergraduate chairperson of mathematics, candidates who do not qualify to teach would be given alternative roles including grading and research assistance. They may enter the classroom later if they fulfill the English proficiency requirements after enrolling in English language and culture programs. Although the new policy effects only those instructors hired on or after July 1, Warner said that he doubted if previously hired faculty would have been effected by the new requirements. "It is my belief that no faculty have been hired in recent years that could not have been hired under the new procedures," Warner said late last month. The new procedures were developed primarily by the deans and department chairpersons from all of the schools with input from Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, Graduate Interschool Activities Council, graduates of the International Teaching Assistants Program, the University Council Committee on International Programs, the Academic Planning and Budget Committee and specialists from the English Language Programs. Linda Coons, executive assistant to the Provost, said earlier this month that she attended many meetings where the policies were discussed by members of various organizations across the University. "At least two-hundred people had a voice in developing the new procedures," Coons said. Evaluation of prospective instructional personnel may include superior scores on nationally adminstered standardized tests. If the instructors scores are just short of the minimum required score they will be referred to the individual department chairperson or English Language Programs Department which will further review the candidate. The new law also requires on-going monitoring of the English fluency of all undergraduate instructional personnel including classroom observation and student evaluations.Comments powered by Disqus
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