[EDLING:1126] Re: Spanish in School?

Francis M Hult fmhult at DOLPHIN.UPENN.EDU
Mon Dec 19 14:32:15 UTC 2005

By way of lg-policy...

> >From the Hutchinson (Kansas) News
> Spanish in school?
> Practice commonplace in western half of state
> By Tim Vandenack tvandenack at hutchnews.com
> LIBERAL - Walking through the halls between classes at Liberal High School
> or chowing down with her friends in the cafeteria, Violet Lopez frequently
> lapses into Spanish. "It just comes out naturally," said the senior, who
> grew up speaking Spanish at home but is as comfortable with English.
> "Without even thinking, I'll start speaking it." Cherie Carter, a
> Caucasian senior who's studied Spanish since her freshman year,
> occasionally slips into Spanish with Hispanic friends in the lunchroom or
> out on the basketball court.
> "Que pasa?" she'll ask, or "What's up?" in English.
> With Hispanics accounting for well over half of the student body in
> southwest Kansas' three largest school districts - Liberal USD 480, Garden
> City USD 457 and Dodge City USD 443 - Spanish is hard to avoid. The
> Liberal district is 65 percent Hispanic, some of those first-generation
> newcomers, while the numbers are 66 percent in Dodge City and 60 percent
> in Garden City. "Our kids are speaking Spanish in the lunchroom, in the
> hallway," said Garden City High School Principal James Mireles. Some
> teachers, he adds, even greet their students with "hola" or "buenos dias"
> each day.
> Accordingly, the notion of a student being suspended for speaking Spanish
> - as occurred late last month at a Kansas City, Kan., school - is as
> unlikely here as it is cause for incredulity. The father of the
> 16-year-old, who later was reinstated, since has filed suit, charging that
> the school infringed upon the teen's civil rights. "If we were to kick out
> everyone who spoke Spanish in the hallway, we wouldn't have a school,"
> Carter said. "It wouldn't even fly. The whole community would be
> outraged." Practically, Mireles says, though English is, by and large, the
> language of instruction at Garden City High School, being bilingual is a
> plus in today's global economy. Moreover, he suggests it would be
> culturally insensitive to forbid a language.
> "We want all of our kids to learn English, and I think the kids want to
> learn English and their parents do, too," Mireles said. "But we don't want
> to discourage their native language." More fundamentally, Eric Castaneda,
> another Liberal High School senior, alludes to the U.S. Bill of Rights and
> notes that the United States doesn't have an official language. "This
> country was founded on freedom of speech," said Castaneda, who speaks
> Spanish at home with his parents but English at school.
> 'Speak in English'
> There was a time when speaking Spanish was frowned upon at Liberal High
> School, says Jim Little, the principal. That was back in the late 1980s
> and early 1990s, before southwest Kansas' Hispanic population really
> started to grow. "It wasn't a policy. It was just frowned upon," he said.
> "We'd say, 'Speak in English.' " Now, though, it just isn't practical to
> crack down on Spanish speakers, he said. And though Spanish is the
> language of instruction in Liberal, Little notes that a bit of Spanish
> inside the classroom sometimes comes in handy.
> For some students, English is a second language, so if a teacher uses a
> word they don't understand, another bilingual student can help fill them
> in. "Sometimes, it's a matter of getting one or two words across," Little
> said. "Why not use what you have? It's a resource." Still, there are times
> when the use of Spanish might merit discipline - if a student cusses, for
> instance. "Of course, that would be for vulgarity, not for speaking that
> language,"  Mireles said.
> By and large, though, the consensus seems to be that the ability to speak
> Spanish, along with English, is a major plus, especially with increased
> globalization. And such multilingualism might be inevitable, adds Luz
> Riggs, a Spanish instructor at Liberal High School. "Our nation is no
> longer an isolated island in a sea of nations," Riggs said. "It's a
> wonderful melting pot of many races and languages."
> http://www.hutchnews.com/news/regional/stories/spanish121705.html
> 12/17/2005; 02:32:18 AM

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