Foreign Language Courses in Wisconsin Subject to Budget Cuts

According to the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the recent budget cuts by Governor Walker may endanger foreign language programs in the public school system. Here is the full story from http://www.weac.org, March 16, 2011:

MILWAUKEE—With Wisconsin residents bracing for an unprecedented gutting of public education under Gov. Scott Walker’s extreme budget proposal, many Milwaukee residents fear foreign language courses and specialty schools could be wiped out. Walker’s proposed budget bill cuts $834 million from K-12 education and slashes hundreds of millions from early childhood education programs.

Parents, teachers and education support professionals, nurses, students, firefighters, police, and other working families have been attending community information sessions being held throughout the Milwaukee area on the so-called budget repair bill. Another town hall meeting is scheduled for tonight at Milwaukee French Immersion School, located at 2360 N. 52nd St., in Milwaukee. The citywide public school, which provides most of its academic instruction in French in grades one through five, could be closed if the governor’s budget bill passes.

“These cuts to courses and programs are just devastating to the community and to the kids who depend on these services,” said Janet Fendos, whose children attended the Milwaukee French Immersion School. “We’re worried about sustaining foreign language programs. Look at what this budget is doing to our kids and their futures.”

Foreign language courses are not considered part of the core curriculum, which means they would likely be first on the chopping block. Those kinds of cuts are at odds with the goal of keeping America competitive in the 21st century. Even President Obama is pressing more Americans to learn a foreign language. In Milwaukee, parents and teachers are distraught that the Milwaukee French Immersion Schools—and similar schools across Wisconsin—have already had to make dramatic program cuts to art, music, physical education and afterschool programs.

“The Walker budget cuts undermine the quality of our children’s education while offering breaks to big businesses and the rich,” said Mary Bell, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council. “Not only will nearly $1 billion in school cuts lead to teacher layoffs and increased class sizes, this budget eliminates funding for programs like science education and Advanced Placement that help our kids succeed. Deep cuts also jeopardize arts and sports.”

In the last month, Wisconsin residents have been spurred to action by the governor’s extreme actions and his attacks on working families. They are attending rallies, marches and other protests across the state that come on the heels of a massive turnout at the Capitol in Madison that drew more than 100,000 people.

“Educators know these are tough economic times, and we have made sacrifices. But this budget is extreme and does not reflect Wisconsin’s values,” added Bell. “Legislators should make choices that help our kids, not hurt them.”

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