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?