December 18, 2014
Around the big top

Board cuts sets S-S students back

By Tim Barnum|News Editor
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Posted 8/12/09

At the Board of Education meeting on Monday, a Spanish/geography teacher supposedly had to be hired to ensure that students can get a well-rounded education, and as was also pointed out, the class of 2014, eighth graders this year, will need two years of foreign language to graduate.

That’s correct, but Standish-Sterling’s (S-S for the sake of room in the column) School Board cut out the pre-kindergarten just minutes before hiring a new teacher for foreign language – the fourth one in the district now.

Superintendent Michael Dodge said that learning a foreign language helps students become better readers and helps them compete in a global economy.

No doubt about it he’s right, but being a better reader doesn’t start in middle school or in high school, when children can start learning foreign languages, but at a young age.

Or, to be specific, before starting kindergarten.

The average five-year-old in East Asia can count to 40. The average five-year-old in the U.S. can count to 15.

Now, take out that chance for a child to go to school prior to turning five, such as all the schools in Arenac County, with the help of the Michigan State Senate, recently did.

Maybe it’ll drop down to only being able to count to 10 for the average five-year-old. Then Arenac County and Michigan kids, when they need to learn the most to get ahead and make strides educationally, can be three-quarters behind children in Asia.

How can we say we’re setting up kids to compete in a global economy by putting them a year behind, when other countries already go to school longer and, such as the case in China, language make math easier (25 plus 35 in Chinese is read as two 10’s and a five plus three 10’s and a five, making the addition simpler)?

And the fact that Standish-Sterling has four foreign language teachers, to me, is amusing. A new one had to be hired so another could focus on French?

Let’s scrap French class altogether. And I’M NOT JOKING!

How many countries in the world speak French? Obviously, France, a few provinces in Canada, and a few countries in Africa that the French people colonized, exploited and left in poverty.

How many speak Spanish? Well, there’s almost all of Central and South America (plenty of developing economies), Spain, the Caribbean nations, Mexico, and whether or not you want to accept it, a large portion of the United States.

If we want Arenac County students to have a chance to succeed in, as Mr. Dodge put it, a global economy, the school district should focus on getting them schooling as soon as they can, and not simply offering them a luxury, such as French class.

And shame on the State Senate for being so ignorant. It’s as though this state’s government learns less and less, and wants children in Michigan’s down trodden economy to have pathetic schools as well. In case they haven’t noticed, and I seriously wonder if they have, we can’t just depend on the auto industry to employ our whole state anymore.

We need to raise kids that can communicate across borders, especially across borders nearby and in developing nations that are important to the future of our country.

We also need kids who can at least have a chance to keep up with children in countries that already go to school more, for longer hours, and have natural advantages from language.

What say you Board of Education? Parents?

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