Staff Editorial: Board should reconsider cuts to French and German at middle school

“You can’t provide a world class education without a world language.” This was the message on posters and declared during speeches at the school board meeting on Feb. 5. Students, teachers, parents, and members of the community spoke on behalf of keeping world language in the middle schools of Millard, which was a part of a larger plan proposed on changing the middle school daily schedule. But despite the outpouring of support from the crowd, the measure passed unanimously with board members Mike Pate, Dave Anderson, Linda Poole, and Amanda McGill Johnson voting in the affirmative. Board Member Mike Kennedy was not present.

The overall proposition was to change the schedule of the middle schools to help improve standardized test scores and save money. This includes late starts on Mondays and a seven period schedule instead of 8 to give 10 more instructional minutes in the core classes. This plan also cuts the German and French programs from the schools, but Board Member Linda Poole made an amendment to the plan to add a six week exploration course to 8th grade for the languages.

This exploration is the same course that was required in the 6th grade for all the languages. However, it is two years too late. Students will have already taken two years of Spanish by the time they reach 8th grade. Students will not want to change languages when they are in 8th grade or when they arrive to high school. This is because students will do one of three things, 1) continue with Spanish because they enjoy the language, 2) become complacent with Spanish and not want to switch, or 3) stop learning any languages, because they hate Spanish and did not have the opportunity to make a choice. Leaving this choice allows for students to choose their education and make it so they enjoy their schoolwork and continue to work hard.

French and German could still be taught during a 7 period day. They would be in the same period as Spanish. All three could be taught. will still be taught during that seven day period. The other two languages could be taught during the same block in the schedule like they are now and have been for years. They are not separate periods of classes but rather separate classes happening at the same time.

The schedule change also changes German and French in the high schools and ultimately the pathway to AP. It makes it so that students take German/French I in freshman year and end up taking AP French/German senior year. This three year course is not possible to prepare students for AP world language. It also puts them at a disadvantage compared to the Spanish students. The Spanish students will have had seven years to prepare for AP, while the French and German students will only have three. However, it was discussed at the board meeting that students at North who take Latin are well prepared for the AP exam. Latin does not compare to a modern language in how it is taught, studied, and tested over. The AP Latin course and exam does not have conversational sections or cultural sections, but the Spanish, German, and French courses and exams do. The College Board says that “There are no prerequisite courses, but typically students enter this course with three to five years of language instruction at the high school level.”

The Levy Override was campaigned as the “savior of all programs” and was passed by the voters in November. We feel betrayed for voting for the Levy Override, because now programs are being cut. Overall, the vote to cut the German and French Programs was the wrong decision. If anything we should be starting languages in elementary school, because other nations have shown it works out excellently for students and the country as a whole. That is not possible if we cut the programs to only have them in high schools. The board should reconsider the vote of cutting the French/German programs from our middle schools and look more closely to see what we are losing by doing so.