It’s the middle of January and I haven’t posted anything. It’s not that I haven’t been thinking, it’s just that I’ve been a little consumed by a proposal my local School District released last week. They, the District I live in and my kids attend (not where I work), are interested in adding a World Language Program in the elementary schools. The idea is to introduce the Spanish language to students beginning in first grade. On the surface, this sounds like something that will be a huge benefit for our students. The problem, however, is how they plan on funding the additional teachers. We all know the budget situations most school districts are in and that money isn’t easy to come by. The proposal on the table to fund the new positions will come at the expense of the elementary school librarians. The District is proposing to cut all elementary library media specialist and reassign them to different teaching positions. The libraries would be staffed part time by educational assistants. I know this is not a good idea. I think those of you reading this would agree.
This information was told to teachers and parents only 5 days before a School Board meeting was being held to go over the proposal. This left little time for people to gather information and share their feelings with the District or School Board members. To assist with the sharing of research, ideas, and comments, I created a Facebook group and quickly invited neighborhood parents. In just a couple of days, there were over 100 members of the group. I was pretty pleased with this. Great conversations were taking place in the days leading up the School Board meeting. At the meeting, many concerned parents spoke, as did I. The speakers were incredibly passionate, informed, and positive in their comments. While there were many comments on the actual structure of the language program, no one spoke against it. One common theme was the need for our schools to continue their quality library programs and staff those programs with certified teachers.
The vote on this proposal is scheduled for January 24th. I believe the vote is going to be very close. There is still about a week for parents to express their concerns to School Board members. I hope the proposal, as it’s currently written, is voted down. I do hope, however, that a new proposal to fund the world languages program comes back to the table. Perhaps the District can find a way to fund the additional teachers without cutting a program that impacts every single elementary school student in the District.