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July 14, 1979 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1979-07-14

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Michigan baly
Eighty-nine Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St. Ann Arbor MI. 48109
Vol. LXXXIX, No. 44-S News Phone: 764-0552
Edited and managed by students
at the University of Michigan
Schools must deal
with Black English
U S. DISTRICT Court Judge Charles Joiner
0delivered a monumental decision Thur-
sday when he ruled that Ann Arbor Public Schools
must recognize the learning difficulties Black
English poses to its speakers when taught stan-
dard English by instructors who ignore the
His ruling was supported by the testimony of
several expert linguists, who said Black English
is a legitimate dialect governed by grammatical
rules just like standard English. Judge Joiner
wisely accepted this idea but did not say the
dialect posed a barrier as significant as that of a
foreign language.
In fact, Judge Joiner deemed that it is the instr-
cutor's failure to recognize the dialect which
discourages its speakers from learning, thus con-
structing a barrier. He ordered the system to
come up with a plan to impart ways to identify
such speakers to teachers within 30 days.
The justness of this decision is apparent both in
the equalizing effect it should have on education
and the price schools must pay to implement it.
Students should no longer be systematically
categorized as mentally or emotionally disabled
when it is only the dialect they speak which im-
pedes their learning. Therefore, learning dif-
ficulties which are only compounded over time
may be avoided or overcome altogether while still
While the true effects of the ruling on the school
system are not yet clear, it seems that they will
not be inordinately taxing. Once teachers'
awareness is aroused, they should not have to be
periodically refreshed on the signals of this type
of speech. Since Joiner did not decree that special
classes or books be set aside for these children,
the schools should not have to devote extensive
funds to abide by the decision.
The school board's attorney, John Weaver, said
he was confused by the ruling, because it seemed
to direct the schools to overcome a barrier whose
existence was denied. Weaver indicated he might
appeal the decision on that basis. When examined
logically, the ruling makes perfect sense: studen-
ts' learning opportunities should not change with
their cultural background.
It is hoped that the schools will examine the
situation carefully, and devise a prudent and fair
plan to erase past educational inequities.
Fulfillment of rulings such as this one at last may
bring the realization of the phrase "equal oppor-

^_.___ P T.. _ .. . ---oz. _ _ __-.... ..-.
- . .

Black English
N A DECISION hailed as
"monumental" and likened to
Brown vs. Board of Education,
U.S. District Judge Charles'
Joiner ruled Thursday that
students are educated
inadequately when instructors
fail to consider "home language"
in teaching standard English.
The case stems from charges
made by attorneys for 11 children
from Ann Arbor's Martin Luther
King, Jr. Elementary School. The
attorneys claimed that because
the children, who live in an all-
black low-income housing project
in Ann Arbor, speak Black
English, teachers erroneously
labelled them as having
emotional or learning
disabilities. Judge Joiner's ruling
followed three weeks of
testimony from language exper-
ts, including University English
Prof. Daniel Fader.
JUDGE JOINER has given the
Ann Arbor School District 30
days to devise a plan to identify
children who speak black dialect
and use that information in
teaching standard English.
The federal judge also ruled
that the school district had
followed procedures required by

law in classifying the 11 plaintiff
children as emotionally or lear-
ning disabled.
John Weaver, attorney for the
Ann Arbor schools, called the
ruling "confusing. . . we have
won many battles but lost the
IN HIS OPINION, Judge Joiner
said Black English is "not itself a
barrier." But when a teacher
fails to take it into account, it
becomes one.
"If a barrier exists because of
the language used by the children
in this case, it exists not because
the teachers and students cannot
understand each other but
bacuse, in the process of attem-
pting to teach the students how to
speaktstandardeEnglish, the
students are made somehow to
feel inferior and are thereby tur-
ned off from the learning
process," Judge Joiner said.
The implications of Judge
Joiner's decision for education in
the nation are obvious, but the
children are the direct benefac-
"I hope the decision will show
teachers that every kid has
something to offer, no "matter
how they talk," said a mother of
one of the children.

Editorials which appear without a byline
represent a concensus opinion of the Daily's
editorial board. Al other editorials, as well as
cartoons, are the opinions of the individuals
who submit them.

IN APPROVING the state bud-
get yesterday, the legislature
hiked the University's funding
level by 9.3 per cent. The Univer-
sity submitted a recommended
budget in October, asking for an
18 per cent raise.
The legislature's decision con-
firmed widespread expectations
of a substantial tuition boost. On
Wednesday, Assistant Vice-
President for State Relations
Lawrence Fincher said the
University would need an eight to
9.5 per cent tuition increase along
with the $12.2 million raise from
the state just to maintain current
service and pay levels.
Administrators may also cut
the ten per cent proposed in-
crease in faculty salaries to close
the 8.7 per cent gap between ac-
tual and requested ap-
propriations, according to Fin-
Earlier in the budgetary
process, Vice-President for
Academic Affairs Harold
Shapiro, said some University
staff members may have to be
laid off if state funding fell far
short of the amount needed.
However, no layoffs have been
mentioned since.
A ATA cuts
threaten to pare Dial-a-Ride
service sharply. The Ann Arbor
Transportation Authority
(AATA) Board is presently con
sidering proposals to eliminate
all but handicapped and elderly
Dial-a-Ride service during the
week, and all weekend and
evening trips.
More than 60 people attended
Wednesday night's AATA board
meeting to protest pssible cuts.
Reduction opponentssclaimed
weekend service cuts meant the
end, of shopping and socializing
for disabled county residents.
Out-county Saturday service is
beingcontinued on a trialebasis
until the end of the summer. At
that time the County Com-
missioner's Out-County Tran-
sportation Policy Committee will
make a recommendation to the
AATA board.
Under the plan the board is
considering, fixed route service
would be reduced from every 15
minutes to every half hour on the
Packard Rd. route, but would
maintain 15-minute frequency on
the Washtenaw Ave. route. Ac-
cording to the proposal, the 22-
coach fleet would be increased
by two buses and the current five
fixed routes would be doubled.

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BillY S. l.......
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.................. Sports Editor
-Executiv, Sports Editor
-Managing Sports Editor

S c "- i" : t= ~- " 's:#; "". .' X' onng: Ilnkne infly'5v (e1"J , 1979"

1979' .

Week-in-review was written by
Editor-inChivf Elizabeth Slowik and
Editorial Director JudykRak owshy.

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