Monday, September 15, 2008

Maybe it's time to tighten up that comment policy

DH education reporter Jennifer Moody has a story on the website dealing with dual-language education programs and the possible effects of Measure 58, which would limit the amount of non-English instruction for K-12 students to two years:

Jones will teach her second-graders in Spanish for half the school day. In the afternoon, they’ll move next door, speaking and hearing only English, while Jones works in Spanish with the group who spent the morning on the English side.

Dual-language immersion programs have been a popular option at Corvallis schools for about nine years. But their future is uncertain under an initiative on the November ballot, Measure 58, which would limit the time children can spend in classes taught in languages other than English.

I would encourage you to read the story; it's got some good information. The comments, however, are not as encouraging. There were three when I checked (just scroll down to the bottom of the story):

steveo wrote on Sep 14, 2008 7:38 AM:

" Its a sad day when schools start getting sued for not providing dual language classes, We have a common language to interact with each other and where will this stop 7 or 8 languages more with all this given to diffrent languages what will our children learn so they can make it in the world. It seeems we are becoming a nation to cater and I worry the basics will be lost and in the end more kids lossing the fundementals which they will need but I guess if we can all talk we can be more like our goverment talk,talk but get little done. "

I am tempted to make a comment about fundamentals and steveo's grasp of the written word. Moving on:

btrflygirl67 wrote on Sep 14, 2008 6:20 PM:

" I agree with Sizemore !!! We should be focusing on English. If Parents want their children to learn Spanish- Hire a tutor or HEY BUY A BOOK AND TEACH IT AT HOME!! I worry that we will be voting soon whether or not we have to choose if English or Spanish is our "first" language- C'mon People wake up!!!! "

And, of course, the it's-so-cliche-you-mean-it's-not-parody comment:

gmham wrote on Sep 15, 2008 8:39 AM:

" this isn't mexico or any other country!!!!!!!! this is america!!!!!!!!!!! if you don't like our language, which is english, then get the heck out and go home!!!!!!!!! talk about discrimation, why aren't there classes taught in chinese or russian??? i am sick of my kid coming home complaining he didn't understand things in class because it was taught in spanish..........i think it is about time to sue the school district myself for discriminating against my child for being american and speaking is a bunch of bull....."

I want to be clear about two things:

1) Dual-language programs have basically zero downsides. People who go through them are more employable, more able to move about in different cultures (and different countries), speak two languages, build community with more diverse groups and at younger ages, etc. Yes, it's a struggle to learn another language, but it's also much easier to do at an early age. Have I failed at learning another langauge as a teen and adult? Yes. Do I wish I'd had Spanish/English dual language when I was in elementary school? Heck yes.

2) The comments made about the story are racist and ignorant of history. I wish I could say I was surprised that the DH approved them, but I'm not (sometimes the "let them hang themselves" thing is outweighed by the harm that's done by posting the comments). Furthermore, the comments have little, if anything, to do with the actual story, but are instead reactions to a fear of a generalized Other. One might also call it xenophobia.

Sigh. Between this and the imminent and massive financial meltdown (and it's only Monday), I suppose it's time I retreat to my hideout in the Cascades and start the guerrilla radio broadcasts calling for the overthrow of the remnants of capitalism. I don't know how else I'm going to survive the week.


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