Good news — at least somewhere. The New Haven, CT, schools have received $1.3 from the U.S. Department of Education to teach Chinese and Arabic to their students. Here’s the article from the New Haven Register, July 28, 2010:
The public schools have received a $1.3 million federal Foreign Language Assistance Program grant for Chinese and Arabic culture and language programs, the district said in a statement.
The five-year grant, provided through the U.S. Department of Education, “is intended to strengthen, expand, and enrich the teaching of critical languages essential for our nation’s international competitiveness,” the statement said.
“We are extremely pleased to receive this grant,” Superintendent of Schools Reginald Mayo said in the statement. “Our School Change Initiative is focused on ensuring that our students are well prepared to succeed in the new world market. Providing them skills in these emerging languages and cultures will help them to be highly marketable in our global economy.”
The district offers Spanish, French, Italian, Latin, Arabic and Chinese, the statement said. The Chinese and Arabic language programs were started in 2007.
The district in September will expand the Chinese language program, now in four elementary/middle schools and three high schools, by adding Level 3 courses, expanding the program to two additional middle schools, and hiring two additional full-time teachers, the statement said.
One full-time and one part-time teacher will be added to the Arabic language program and it will be expanded into an additional middle school and high school, the statement said. The Arabic program is in two elementary/middle schools and two high schools.
The district plans that, by the 2013-14 school year, it will have eight full-time Chinese teachers and six full-time Arabic teachers.
“This grant offers our students the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the language, customs and people of another culture.
“As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, our students’ future success may likely rely on an ability to understand other cultures and speak other languages,” Karen deFur, the district’s foreign language supervisor and leader of the grant-writing effort, said in the statement.
Mayo shared how enthusiastic he is about the parental involvement aspect of this grant. “We continue to encourage parents to get involved in their children’s education, and this is a very unique model that I look forward to seeing more of.”
Part of the grant “involves the design and implementation of a Saturday program where students and parents attend separate classes focused on the language program the child has chosen. Parents will learn basic language skills and cultural aspects, and there will be field trips that parents and students enjoy together,” the statement said.
New Haven joined with Yale University and the state Department of Education in the grant process. “New Haven is the only school district in Connecticut to be awarded this 2010 grant,” Claudia Merson, director of public school partnerships at Yale University, said in the statement, “and Yale University is delighted to be a part of it.”