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Parents revolt against removal of French from curriculum

May 10, 2007

The Fox Point-Bayside School Board and school officials said they will examine the foreign languages that will be offered to fifth-graders next year after fielding fervent comments from several parents.

District officials have been moving forward with a plan to incorporate Mandarin Chinese as one of the foreign languages offered next year after the board unanimously voted two weeks ago to begin to phase out French over the next three years.

That plan might be stalled after parents voiced strong opposition during an informational meeting held in a crowded Stormonth Elementary School cafeteria May 7.

"I am asking the board to give our children the future and not the latest fad," said parent Kimberlee Rosen. "We don't need another pet rock."

At the crux of the issue is offering of Chinese as opposed to French. Rosen, along with several other parents, said that French is a universal language spoken at the United Nations, the Olympics and by the World Health Organization.

"I think we all understand that the language(s) of diplomacy and of foreign trade really (are) English and French," parent David Snell said.

Parents also are concerned with the dropout rate that could come along with Chinese, a relatively difficult language to learn, and the prospect that students will be locked in to taking four years of Chinese if they opt for it at the end of fourth grade.

School officials began exploring foreign language options in December after learning that the school's French teacher was planning to retire at the end of the school year. Spanish will continue to be offered throughout the district.

District officials also will continue to analyze the possibility of using Rosetta Stone, a suite of instructional software used worldwide to learn different languages.

Brendan O'Brien can be reached at (262) 446-6602. His e-mail address is bobrien@cninow.com.

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