Monday, July 09, 2007

But we'll trust you on the grammar 

I read that the St. Cloud school district will have Spanish and Chinese immersion programs.

The curriculum will be the same as for students in traditional kindergarten classes, but classes will be taught in another language.

The district expects to add a grade each year so students can continue to move forward in school taking immersion classes. English would not appear in the classroom until second grade. Parents would be expected to work at home with their children on English through reading and other activities that parents normally do to help their children develop, Espe said.

The district also wants to ensure that the percentage of minority students in the immersion classrooms matches the district�s percentage of minority enrollment. Espe said she hopes to have about 30 percent minority students. In a class of 20 students, that would mean about six.

The district plans to invite minority students to enroll in two language immersion classes next year to attempt to ensure minority students are enrolled. Students who are from other countries and learning English for the first time would not be eligible.

Now I wonder -- we can trust parents in these programs to teach English to their children, but not financial literacy? We can't trust them to teach their children about respect for other cultures? (I don't doubt for a second that some of that will happen in these immersion classes.)

It just seems a little too convenient.

If we can provide Spanish and Chinese immersion for those who choose (Spanish has been offered in Mpls. Public Schools for years), why not English immersion for students who do not speak English? In other words, eliminate the part time English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, immerse the children in English everything. Based on my experience with foreign students, it takes about six months of concentrated effort to become functionally bilingual in the classroom.