The Gateway Pundit got it wrong last week when he attacked Oregon Teacher of the Year Elena Garcia-Velasco. Popular conservative blogger Jim Hoft (a.k.a. The Gateway Pundit) posted a video of Garcia-Velasco speaking at Portland’s Roosevelt High School commencement.
His post title?
Si, Se Puede!… Oregon ‘Teacher of the Year’ Praises Obama in Graduation Speech–Can Hardly Speak English (Video)
The post itself reiterates that Garcia-Velasco “can barely speak English.”
See what you think:
Garcia-Velasco’s syntax and vocabulary are both above reproach. The native Spaniard simply speaks English with a heavy Spanish accent.
Gateway Pundit, shame on you.
My great-grandparents spoke English with a heavy German accent. And I’ll bet that, give or take a generation or two, yours did as well, Mr. Hoft.
According to The Oregonian, Roosevelt, in the St. Johns neighborhood, is the poorest high school in Portland. It’s also the only one to offer an Advanced Placement Spanish Literature course–a course taught by Garcia-Velasco.
In fact, every Spanish course at Roosevelt is taught by Garcia-Velasco. She is the entire Spanish department.
A year ago, Roosevelt senior Angel Gutierrez, the sixth of seven children in a working-class family, won a full-ride scholarship to Brown University. His parents speak little English, his father works as a pillow-stuffer, and only one of his older siblings completed high school. But the Los-Angeles-born, Portland-reared Gutierrez took a full load of AP classes–math, science, English, Spanish–and spent four hours every night on homework. He took additional science classes at Portland Community College, became highly literate in both English and Spanish, and is now finishing his first year in the Ivy League school.
Gutierrez credits Garcia-Velasco for giving him the tools necessary, not just to graduate from high school, but to be successful at Brown. He says she worked long unpaid hours before and after school helping him. Here’s an excerpt from his recommendation letter, which helped her clinch Teacher of the Year:
Two years ago when our class was preparing for our AP Spanish Literature exam she focused intensely on finishing the content a month before the AP exam in order to have a whole month to prepare. During that month we wrote essays, reviewed the material by creating summaries, and played critical thinking games. That year most of our class passed the AP exam and a few of us got fours. The percentage that passed in our class was so high that it raised our state’s average above the national average. Ms. Garcia-Velasco is an excellent, innovative and dedicated teacher.
We should blow all that off and make fun of her because she speaks with an accent?
The Gateway Pundit could have attacked Garcia-Velasco’s support for the RESPECT Project. According to Laurie Calvert, Teacher Liaison at the Department of Education, the President’s new $5 billion grant program is designed, to “redefine” the teaching profession and “change the culture” of teaching through “radical reform.” Its vision statement is full of fine-sounding language and remarkably vague on all the specifics.
Oh, wait, that’s not quite right. The section dealing with compensation is quite specific:
In our vision, starting salaries for professional teachers who have completed their clinical residency and advanced beyond Novice status (generally 2-4 years after their apprenticeships) could be as high as $60,000-65,000, adjusted as appropriate to the different geographic locations’ cost of living. Additionally, salaries would increase faster and maximum salaries would be higher so that master teachers and other teacher leaders would have the ability to earn as much as $120,000-150,000 after about 7-10 years, commensurate with principals’ salaries.
A hundred and fifty grand for nine months’ work while still in your early thirties? What’s not to like? (You can read the entire Vision Statement here.)
The Gateway Pundit could have highlighted the irony of Garcia-Velasco being allowed to give an overtly political graduation speech laden with praise for Barack Obama, when Oscar-winning movie producer Gerald Molen (Rain Man, Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park, Minority Report) was invited to speak at another commencement ceremony, then disinvited from delivering an apolitical speech about thinking of your life as a movie.
Why was Molen barred?
Because, said the principal, he’s politically conservative.
The Gateway Pundit could have pointed out, as FrontPage Magazine did, that, while no data are available for high schools, a recent survey indicates that, of commencement speakers at the top 100 universities in the country, 71 were liberal and a mere 10 were conservative. Of the top 35 schools, only one invited a conservative speaker.
But ridiculing a teacher at an inner city school who is encouraging and equipping students from low-income families to go to college?
Because she’s a native of Spain and speaks English with a Spanish accent?
We’re an immigrant nation, and that kind of xenophobia is entirely unworthy of us.
Oh, and congratulations, Elena Garcia-Velasco, on being Oregon’s 2012 Teacher of the Year.