Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Axe?

I'm going to take a break from my usual drivel and actually post about something professional.

In my district, there is a substantial history of having a better than average foreign language program. Back in the day, there were "Junior High Schools", which consisted of 7th, 8th and 9th graders. High Schools were 10-12th. Beginnning in 7th grade, students could take the first year of Spanish, French or German, if it fit into their schedules and/ or they were so inclined. The course material was the same as that at the high school level, so that any kid in the district taking Spanish 1 got the same content, no matter which school.

Students could continue language study upon entering high school and were then able to take wonderful upper level courses in literature and civilization before taking the AP plunge. Many students were able to CLEP out of foreign language requirements and several had enough credits that they entered college with almost a minor in a foreign language.

Fast forward to the 90's. The Junior High Schools were made into Middle Schools. 9th graders went to high school, 6th graders to middle school. Our high school moved to the 4-block concept. "Exploratory" classes were offered to the 6th graders.

Enter the new millenium (millenia? I don't know.) Our every move is driven by test scores. Test scores from tests that don't count for anything. There is a big push to create more time in the day for math and reading. Rumor has it they are planning to cut foreign language from the middle schools entirely. It's only a rumor, but it exists because there has been some discussion about it.

This saddens and angers me on so many levels. If anything, second language instruction should begin at an earlier age, not later. Is this really the best our district has to offer its students?


Blogger happychyck said...

It is completely crazy that students aren't offered language earlier. I love the idea that students can take such high level language classes in high school. What's even more backwards is that it is more important for students to be bilingual (more global job opportunities) than it was 20 years ago. Just seems like we are doing everything bass ackwards these days. Don't worry. The pendulum will swing back someday.

3/28/2007 11:49 PM  
Blogger Adeline said...

Wow, it sounds like the program you guys had was "enlightened" at least. I never hear of so many logical practices in place.

What is happening at your school happens at our school too. But since 2000 when I started they always talk about getting rid of second language. the idea that they would do that has some pretty dire if our country weren't xenophobic enough. ridiculous. sad, idiotic.

frustrating. it is enough to make a teacher abandon public schools and look for greener pastures elsewhere.

3/29/2007 2:16 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Bluebird said...

It makes no sense to me that they wait until high school to give kids a chance to take a language. Language is learned easier, and better, at an earlier age (or so the studies say). And goodness knows, we need more people who can speak something other than english in the workforce. There's just not enough time in the day, is there?

3/29/2007 9:33 PM  
Blogger Nic said...

I once got told to spend less time concentrating on a Social Studies lesson because it wasn't on the AIMS. Pretty soon everything except English and Math will be dispensable, at this rate.

I still do a geography unit, and Latin American current event reports every Thursday, because their general knowledge about the rest of the world, period...history, politics, culture, geography, appallingly deficient.

3/30/2007 11:26 AM  
Blogger Mister Teacher said...

"This saddens and angers me on so many levels. If anything, second language instruction should begin at an earlier age, not later. Is this really the best our district has to offer its students?"


4/01/2007 8:39 PM  
Blogger Pendullum said...

Do not get me started about what is being cut up here...

So sad for the loss of a foreign language prgramme in your parts...

4/02/2007 9:15 AM  
Blogger marry said...

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