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Can the Faculty Speak Clearly?

January 30, 1996
By: Cristina Gomez
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - A University of Missouri student came before a state legislative committee Tuesday to urge lawmakers to require his teachers to take an English test.

Brenden Steffens, a student at MU, testified before the Senate Education Committee in support of legislation that would require both faculty and teaching assistants to take an English proficiency test to prove they've mastered the language.

Steffens complained he received a grade of D at MU in a course taught by a teacher who he said was not proficient enough in English. He had taken that course before in another university, and had received a grade of B.

Joining Steffens as a witness in support of the bill was Deron Sugg, who represented the Associated Students of the University of Missouri,

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau. It would require state educational institutions evaluate members of its instructional faculty for fluency in English.

"I don't have in mind testing each faculty member," Kinder said. Kinder said the bill is aimed at non-English speaking professors and teaching assistants whom students may have trouble understanding.

Kinder said because of the amount of money students spend for a college education, they have a right to be taught by instructors fluent in English.

One member of the committee - Sen. Ted House, D-St. Charles - voiced support for Kinder's bill citing problems his nephew had encountered in a class taught by a foreign instructor.

The bill outlines that fluency should be determined by a national test of English language proficiency approved by the Coordinating Board for Higher Education.

While requiring colleges and universities to evaluate the English fluency of their faculties, the bill does not impose any specific standards nor require passage of any evaluation in order to teach.

No administrator for a state higher education testified on the measure.

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