Virginia high-school student proposes more foreign language study

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sun Apr 29 13:55:25 UTC 2007

Tabb teen offers policy input

He and 11 others served the Virginia State Board of Education as members
of a student advisory group.

BY CATHY GRIMES 247-4758 April 28, 2007

RICHMOND -- Tabb High School student Adam Baker found himself on the State
Board of Education agenda Friday, tucked between an award recommendation
and a resolution on testing. He and the 11 other members of the board's
Student Advisory Committee pitched three proposals to improve Virginia's
public schools. Baker's group advocated more foreign language and culture
instruction in elementary schools and a stronger focus on international
relations in high school classes.

Another group suggested revamping middle school drug and alcohol
prevention programs. A third group focused on closing the achievement gap
by recommending a summer program aimed at helping at-risk rising
kindergarten students. State Schools Superintendent Billy Cannaday said he
and the board will consider seriously the three proposals.

"Who better knows about life in the schools than those who live it?" he
said Friday. "They're not making excuses. These reports combine personal
observation with research." The teens - eight high school and four middle
school students from across the state - spent four months researching and
refining their proposals.  They canvassed peers, looked up costs and
compared existing programs. Baker called the experience eye-opening.

"Policy is much more complicated than it seems," he said. His group's
proposal included studies showing that students who learn more than one
language score higher on state-required tests and college entrance exams
than their monolingual peers. Multi-language students also gain a better
grasp of their native language. The team said students who learn about
cultural diversity are more likely to break down cultural barriers than
those who do not. They also will be better equipped to work in globally
competitive industries. "I definitely think this is something that would
benefit not just the students in this state, but also across the country,"
Baker, who hopes to run his own airline company, said after his session
with the board. "I think it will have a huge impact.",0,723001.story?coll=dp-news-local-final


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