As budget cuts extract another ton of flesh from Madison’s public school students, classroom teachers reel from the aftershocks. Keeping a smooth, consistent curriculum takes a lot from an educator, yet as our well-trained teachers meet tough demands, we witness a loss of both rhyme and reason at both the school and the district level. Nowhere do the wounds from budget cuts show more clearly than in foreign language education. If you think Junior should learn a second language, you might consider relocating once you learn the facts.
A child’s chance of learning the language of their choice depends heavily upon where they live within the district. In the fall of 2007, high school students at West, LaFollette, and Memorial will be able to choose from five non-English languages; kids at East get two. The German program, recently axed at East, leaves Spanish and French as the only options, stranding several students like Daniel Schott who’d devoted his time and energy to learning German. Daniel’s choice of German will carry with him through college where his opportunity to earn back credit for high school work diminishes—unless he’s willing to travel to LaFollette daily, an option that will disrupt his daily schedule beyond reason.
Imagine your child taking a novel language, say Italian, as a middle schooler. Students at Spring Harbor and Wright Middle Schools have that option. Unfortunately, the high schools to which Spring Harbor and Wright feed do not offer Italian, creating an academic dead-end for those without the resources to move to the LaFollette area. Even then, the Italian program there may disappear given the recent exodus of the Italian teacher for greener soccer pitches.
Vie the Daily Page.