Saturday, May 30, 2009

Standard American English is right for everyone

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review recently published an excerpt from this letter:
Dear Sir or Madam,

Letter writer Erin Donnelly(Friday May 29) has given Trib readers a piece of thoroughly academic, well-cited nonsense. Teaching African-American students in vernacular English is a waste of valuable class time, promotes ethnic separatism, and adds nothing whatever to the knowledge demanded in the highly competitive adult world.

Frederick Douglass, Paul Robeson, W.E.B. DuBois, Martin Luther King Jr., (and undoubtedly Ms. Donnelly herself) were educated in what she derisively refers to as "Standard American(white) English". These could certainly speak in the vernacular among fellow African Americans, but they understood the need to interact with the larger society, using a standard tongue.

It's a shame that modern academics reject that unfashionable truth for teaching fads with no track record of success, and in doing so place a phenomenal handicap on the futures of so many bright young African Americans with so much potential.

Christopher D. Renner
West Mifflin, PA

The letter which I wrote in response to can be found here.
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