School Board seeks to speak same language

Members want to know what it would take to expand Spanish program

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Ann Coon interacts with students in Ms. Williams' third grade class at Strawberry Park Elementary during a Spanish lesson Monday.

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Ann Coon interacts with students in Ms. Williams' third grade class at Strawberry Park Elementary during a Spanish lesson Monday.

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Ann Coon interacts with students in Ms. Williams' third grade class at Strawberry Park Elementary during a Spanish lesson Monday.

— Steamboat Springs School Board members want to expand Spanish-language instruction in the district's elementary schools.

During Monday's study session, board members expressed an interest in moving elementary Spanish from two, 20-minute sessions a week with teacher Ann Coon to two, 30-minute sessions each week in grades 3 through 5.

Board members asked Strawberry Park and Soda Creek elementary principals Mark MacHale and Judy Harris to work with Coon on a schedule to see what would have to be sacrificed in the current schedule to accommodate an expansion of Spanish.

The board will receive an update at its monthly April board meeting.

"Last year was supposed to be 30 minutes and it wasn't," board member John DeVincentis said. "This year, was supposed to be and it wasn't. I would like to see at least 30 minutes of instructional time (next year). It seems like this is dragging on and on. I would like to see a difference."

The topic of expanding Spanish to include kindergarten through second grades has been discussed in previous years and was mentioned briefly Monday, but Superintendent Donna Howell encouraged the board to consider expanding Spanish to all elementary grades at a later time because next year will be a transition year at Soda Creek with the construction of a new school.

The Education Fund Board, which administers the spending of the city's half-cent sales tax dollars, has consistently supported an articulated foreign language program and allocated $110,000 for this year to fund foreign language at the elementary, middle school and high school at varying levels for things such as materials and teacher salaries.

Spanish is required in sixth and seventh grade, giving students required foreign language from third through seventh-grade. Once students hit eighth grade and into high school, they can continue with Spanish or switch to French.

Coon urged the board to order the district to create an articulated program because she is not fully aware of what is going on at the middle school or the high school.

"I support Spanish, but it has to be articulated," Coon said.

In other items, the School Board:

- Discussed the school calendar. Staff will be given a brief survey of options for 2007-08 school year. Parents will receive a survey at this week's parent/teacher conferences to select their choice

- Received a facilities update from owner's representative Todd Ficken. Soil surveys are done. Modular classrooms have been ordered. Meetings with George P. Sauer Human Services Center neighbors need to be scheduled

- Heard a need from elementary teachers for increased planning time. Administrators were asked to put together current status of planning time and needs at each school

- Received an update on short-term and long-term recommendations and issues for the district to address at the urging of the Visual, Fine and Performing Arts Committee

- Received an update on how the district will meet curriculum needs with the resignation of former curriculum and instruction director Kelly Stanford and the board's decision not to name an interim director

Comments

Gladys 7 years, 1 month ago

What is happening here? Is there any place left in Anerica where the language is English only?

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JustSomeJoe 7 years, 1 month ago

Gladys - congratulations, your comment is probably the most ignorant comment I have seen on this board. That's quite an accomplishment here. Almost every school system in America offers students a chance to learn a second language. My high school offered Spanish, French and Latin. Take a xanax, have a cocktail and avoid your computer.

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allis53ca 7 years, 1 month ago

why aren't we teaching our kids german or japanese??...and spend that time requiring the spanish speaking kids ENGLISH.....i don't understand why we are conforming to mexico?? how many here are sending children to mexico for college??...if our kids are going to a foreign university or college, i doubt its in mexico....i want my children learning a marketable language, not a language so they can communicate with the construction day laborer.....

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housepoor 7 years, 1 month ago

What are talking about? Spanish as a second language is very marketable in the US.

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kingsride 7 years, 1 month ago

"so they can communicate with the construction day laborer..." How bigoted are you?

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Gladys 7 years, 1 month ago

You are just some joe alright - I believe there is a difference between "offered" and "REQUIRED". I think you need to get your head out of the sand and take a good hard look at what is going on in our country.

allis - I agree. Why is spanish ONLY being forced...er, I mean offered.

to everyone else - I have had enough of the illegal population being shoved down my throat. This IS America and the official language IS English. And until I start getting the same RIGHTS the illegals are getting,I am going to COMPLAIN.

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allis53ca 7 years, 1 month ago

....i suppose it'll be okay to pledge allegiance to the mex flag next?...run it up the pole in front of the school, they march in our streets with it...if thats not crammin it down our throats, i don't know what is...welcome to the silent invasion, every nite after dark, at our borders...and YOU are takin it lyin down!...i don't see anyone tryin to learn patois so they can communicate better with our sst drivers...oh no, they're expected to speak so WE can understand them, nice double standard....

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Hadleyburg_Press 7 years, 1 month ago

Your children should be taught Indian or Cantonese so that they can work in the US call centers for Indian and Chinese Tech Firms in the next couple of decades. That is going to be the reality unless we really focus on Math and Science instead of soft subjects. Forget about the uproar over language and focus your energy on reinvigorating a drive to bring our children up to speed in the subjects that trully matter in a competative world i.e. math, biology, chemistry, physics et al. The Mexicans are not to blame for the dumbing down of our society and its children.

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Gladys 7 years, 1 month ago

I am all for learning as many languages as possible, however, I don't believe this move is solely based on educating our children. There is an underlying reason for forcing spanish. Call me paranoid if you like, but this is just another win in the silent invasion.

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SilverSpoon 7 years, 1 month ago

The colorado government has limited Illegals ability to get drivers liscenses, renting housing, and use of other state services. This should include the school system; no green card, no education. No more draining our teachers by making ESL a top priority. Hispanic baby factories are infiltrating our schools faster than the school can hire, not to mention keep teachers. Hiring bonuses, housing allowances, are all bunk solutions to the teacher turnover. Spoiled rotten kids are half the problem, and illegals working for under-the-table wages and sending kids to school without paying taxes is the other problem. Those who hire illegals and don't pay their employer taxes only add more to the problem.

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oofcboy 7 years, 1 month ago

what would really stop the invasion ,would try and teach the mexican people about orgainzed labor union in their own country help them organize a less corupt government so the can earn more money in their own country which if you ask them they will say that they love their land, we need to teach them about the boston tea party and things like that. I am one voice and I am trying

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another_local 7 years, 1 month ago

Teaching a second language.... any language develops the kids abilities to associate ideas, words, cultures etc in more complex and varied ways. This is a huge advantage. Children who learn second languages early in school do better throughout school and life. Don't you want that for your kids?

Spanish is a good choice since the language can be used and teachers are easy to find. We also have French in our school system at the middle school level and up. I have to say there is far less use for that language in the world today.

As a parent with kids in the district I am very pleased that the program is offered. The choice of language or the fact that it is offered at all has NOTHING TO DO with that fact that this is an english speaking country or illegal imigration.

I agree that those who want to live here should speak english and that imigration laws should be enforced. These issues are unrelated to offering second language instruction in schools.

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JustSomeJoe 7 years, 1 month ago

Gladys, the spanish elementary program has been supported by the community for years, with little in the way of district funding. Parents have held numerous fundraisers to pay for this teacher, and we now thankfully have more support from the school district for this valuable program. The community, at least many of them with school age children, support this type of learning and the district listened to us.

This article is about teaching our children another language, not about teaching children english, not about immigration, not about the "silent invasion", as much as you and your xenophobic colleagues would like to think. Just for my edification, when was the cut-off for acceptable immigration, just after your relatives got here? How are you preparing for the silent invasion; tripwires, stocking up on ammo and barbed wire, are you forming a neighborhood watch to report anyone with non-white skin to the INS? Thanks for keeping watch and keeping America ethnocentric.

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Gladys 7 years, 1 month ago

you are ridiculous and stupid. But since you asked, the cutoff for me was last May when the American employers were boycotted, the illegals were marching in the streets DEMANDING American rights while they flew the American flag upside down under the mexican flag. Most (not all) are not the least bit interested in becoming Americans (which by the way, I am FOR legal immigration as my ancestors did)they just want to rape our system, "take back" what American soil they believe is theirs and have Americans cater to them through language, health care, benefits, etc. Most (again, not all) refuse to assimilate. I have had enough. I am tired of pressing 1 for English. This is America - the languange is English. AND if you want to make it easy on foreigners, then fine...but keep it fair. Press 2 for German, 3 for Italian, 4 for Japanese and so on. I am tired of catering to the mexicans. Are they just being obstinate or are they truly so stupid they cannot learn English? I think they are doing it on purpose and I think Americans are falling for it. In addition, I am tired of paying taxes for THEM to get all the beneifts for FREE. Get your head out of the sand...or wherever you have it stuck.

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id04sp 7 years, 1 month ago

Gladys,

Here's another point of view for you.

They WILL speak spanish behind your back. Do you want to be able to understand what they're saying about you? Why give the illegal immigrants a built-in "secret code" to use against us even if they do learn english?

A bit of knowledge in a foreign language can be very useful. Having studied French, other "romance" languages such as Italian and Spanish are easier to understand. Heck, a few months ago, I bought something that came with instructions and lost the English version before I put it together. The French instructions were good enough even though I had to pick up parts of it from context. ("Vis" is the French word for "screw." Puts a new twist on the term, "She's very visible," doesn't it?)

Given a choice between spending money to teach art or to teach Spanish, I'll pick Spanish every time. At least it's a plus when you look for a job in a place where there will be Spanish-speaking customers. Their money spends just as well as anybody else's.

Let's pass a law that says tax forms can be printed in Spanish, but drivers license exams have to be passed using the English version. Maybe that will send a message.

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JustSomeJoe 7 years, 1 month ago

Gladys - this article was about parents that want their kids to learn spanish, it didn't have anything to do with your rant. Go watch some Fox News and gather some more sound bites.

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gwendolyn 7 years, 1 month ago

High School graduation requirements nationwide:

http://internationaled.org/statesforlangraduationrequirements.pdf

As you'll read, the graduating class of 2010 in Colorado MUST have 2 years of a foreign language. Many other states have similar requirements.

of hours to be proficient in a language is significant and 2 years of high school language classes alone won't cut the mustard:

http://www.nvtc.gov/lotw/months/november/learningExpectations.html

Further, the younger the student, the greater the capacity to learn the language and speak it without an "English" accent.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2007-01-09-language-children_x.htm

Eight Reasons the Foreign Language Requirement Isn't Enough:

http://www.cls.yale.edu/page.asp?file=2/355

Not enough reasons? How about global economics (international commerce), diplomacy, arms control, international law enforcement, emergency preparedness, and health?

http://www.internationaled.org/PDKmet.htm

Check the research bib on that website and pull up some of the research presented, if you can. The younger the student, the better able to learn a language. The older, the longer and harder it takes to achieve proficiency. After ~age 14, the ability to speak a secondary language in an almost native accent disappears entirely.

Board members are thinking PROACTIVELY and with long-reaching VISION on this issue, and rightly so. My only concern is that it truly isn't enough. And, for older students, too little too late. What's needed is a summer camp program with total immersion. Far more effective model....

http://clvweb.cord.edu/prweb/

In my educational lifetime I've taken Spanish (2 years-college), French (4 years high school and 1 in college), and Italian. All relatively easy languages that are not that far removed from English. Today, I can read text in Spanish and French and can understand some spoken Spanish and French -- but cannot actually speak any of the languages I've studied. The "school" model currently in place is simply not enough for students to come out of high school and speak ANY language at ANY level of true proficiency. Either languages need to be taught at a much younger age for longer periods of time OR the teaching model needs to change to immersion.

At any rate, the "easiest" second language to learn for native english speakers is Spanish. Admittedly, however, there are many forums online that spend time debating this very issue.

Thank you school board and all those supporting this initiative.

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Gladys 7 years, 1 month ago

I know all about the requirements - they were in effect more than 30 years ago. I took Spanish. I had a choice between Spanish, French, German or Latin. Frankly I took Spanish because it was easiest and no plan in my future required a foreign language. I was more interested in Science and Math. I do not have a problem with learning a foreign language. In fact, I think you should learn as many as you can...oh, but wait...only SPANISH is being offered.

justsome - in your quest to make this political...you are missing the point. I have grown tired of trying to explain the problem to you - I guess you will see for yourself when the time comes. And by the way - sticks and stones...you only show your lack of intelligience and maturity.

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