The Sunnyside School Board recently approved a plan that will provide more academic instruction in Spanish, for those children classified as English-language learners. That means the local school district will be giving preference, when hiring teachers, to those who are bilingual, especially at the K-2 levels.
When we published this story a month or so ago, and then posted it to our website, interestingly there wasn't a single blog from our readers who were in favor of the school district offering more instructions in the Spanish language.
The on-line comments varied, with remarks like:
"...Are the Dutch students, French students and other students than Spanish students given the same chance?"
"...If a teacher is well educated, she/he can make great strides with any student. A lot of studies say if a teacher speaks English well, this also greatly helps the students. What a slap in the face to all the K-2 grade teachers who have worked very hard with every student."
"...Separating English and Spanish speaking children in school and in life does nothing more than create a larger riff in a community that needs unity."
"...What do other districts do that have more than two languages? They cannot possibly teach in every student's native tongue."
I don't have the answers for transitioning those children from being Spanish speaking to being fluent in the English language. I do believe, however, that it's the parents who should be taking on the bulk of the task of preparing their children to converse in English by the time they enter our publicly-funded schools. But as we all know, rarely these days do parents live up to their responsibilities.
My greatest fear in all this is that when the school district goes through the hiring process for teachers, admittedly seeking out those who are fluent in both English and Spanish, a lot of well qualified instructors are going to be passed over. And that, quite simply, is a crying shame. Our schools need well qualified teachers, and the good ones shouldn't be prevented from landing a job here in Sunnyside simply because they can't speak the Spanish language.