New hotness in education: Ebonics for white folks

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Back in 1996, the Oakland School Board (personifying Mark Twain’s observation: In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.) passed a resolution that recognized Nigritian Ebonics (I am not making this up) as an ‘official’ language with special teachers. In the process it made a laughingstock of itself and provided material to stand up comics for a decade:

Be it further resolved that the Superintendent in conjunction with her staff shall immediately devise and implement the best possible academic program for imparting instruction to African American students in their primary language for the combined purposes of maintaining the legitimacy and richness of such language whether it is known as “Ebonics,” “African Language Systems,” “Pan African Communication Behaviors” or other description, and to facilitate their acquisition and mastery of English language skills;

As in the case of Asian-American, Latino-American, Native American and all other pupils in this District who come from backgrounds or environments where a language other than English is dominant, African-American pupils shall not, because of their race, be subtly dehumanized, stigmatized, discriminated against or denied. Asian-American, Latino-American, Native American and all other language different children are provided general funds for bilingual education, English as Second Language (ESL) and State and Federal (Title VIII) Bilingual education programs to address their limited and non-English proficient (LEP/NEP) needs. African-American pupils are equally entitled to be tested and, where appropriate, shall be provided general funds and State and Federal (Title VIII) bilingual education and ESL programs to specifically address their LEP/NEP needs.

All classroom teachers and aids who are bilingual in Nigritian Ebonics (African-American Language) and English shall be given the same salary differentials and merit increases that are provided to teachers of the non-African American LEP pupils in the OUSD.

In reality this was an amalgam of several things: the ‘bigotry of low expectations’, Afro-centrism and racial bigotry, and fishing for federal dollars. While this lunacy was quashed by exposure to public ridicule, its underlying purpose was to do what progressive governments do best: pump up accomplishment-free self esteem and ensure the underclass perpetuates itself.

Now the trend has spread to Appalachia… I’m not sure whether this means the trend is mainstream or it has burned itself out.

After years of association with “The Beverly Hillbillies,” Appalachian people are taking back their dialect.

“There can be no doubt that it’s the most heavily stigmatized regional speech in the country,” South Carolina author Michael B. Montgomery told National Geographic. “I can’t think of any other region where five words out of somebody’s mouth will completely affect another person’s evaluation of their intelligence, their reliability, their truthfulness, and their ability to handle complex tasks.”

It may be subject to negative stereotypes, but the Appalachian dialect is slowly but surely becoming a source of pride for many native speakers, thanks to a surge of programs intended to give young mountain people pride in their linguistics.

This is the paving crew on the superhighway to the Hell of Good Intentions. No regional accent is a good thing in the United States. Where in Britain, for instance, the RP dialect has long been a hallmark of the upper classes and speaking Scouse ensured you didn’t get invited to join the best clubs or the Grenadier Guards, the ideal accent in America is the bland, Wonder-Bread-and-Velveeta accent made famous by Walter Cronkite. I speak from personal experience. My parents hail from the coalfields of southern West Virginia. I was raised mostly in Southside Virginia. I was exposed the the sounds of Appalachia at home and blended those with the softer, slower accent of the Virginia Piedmont. It wasn’t until I was a college freshman in a dorm that was mostly guys from New York and New Jersey that I discovered that I had an accent… they didn’t have one, or so I was told. But if you have to have an accent one of the last ones you want it Appalachian. While a Southern accent has a certain cachet and may be required of pilots and rap moguls speak Ebonics, an Appalachian accent has no upside. It is the accent that is associated with poverty, backwardness, a hardscrabble life, and good music:


But if you speak with an Appalachian accent, then, for Heaven’s sake, write in competent English and fool people. But no, the geniuses we hire to educate our children have a better idea:

Phillips stresses to her students the importance of not forsaking their spoken language, and tries to reflect these values in her teaching.

“If you’re marching out the red pen … you’re really criticizing their culture and their family heritage and other things. It’s not just about standardizing the language,” she told The Associated Press.

A similar encouragement of cultural pride can be found in West Virginia and North Carolina middle schools, where teaching units have been implemented in recent years to focus on the history of each state’s dialects.

Ethnic and cultural pride is something parents are responsible for. Schools need to focus on fundamentals. The idiot who thinks using a ‘red pen’ is criticizing culture and heritage should really consider the way she is failing the children in her class and defrauding the taxpayer by playing around with this nonsense.

But then, again, her mission really isn’t to prepare children to succeed; to give them the tools to allow them to decide if they want to hold onto their accent and dialect rather than giving them no choice. Her mission is ensure every special snowflake feels real good and then marches off, courtesy of Common Core, to be a nice little cog in the low income workforce, forever dependent upon government for their livelihood, and reliably Democrat at the polls.