A relatively affluent, well educated, university-based community with a fine school system seems to be in the process of cutting back severely on foreign language instruction. Chapel Hill NC, of all places, is on the verge of deciding to wield the ax. And, as you might have guessed, Latin is most likely to be the first to get cut back. If so, othe victims will follow.
Why the proposed cuts?
Jim O’Hara of the UNC Classics Department explains: “As drastic budget problems caused both by the economy and an unwillingness to raise taxes lately. They have to cut some things, and naturally noticed that some advanced language courses are very small. “
So why these low enrollments? It turns out the “a growing state level emphasis on core curriculum subjects has shrunk enrollment levels in languages.” (Chapel Hill New May 22 2013, 8A). In other words Math, Science, Reading are in the state-wide tests; language learning is not. It doesn’t matter that the study of foreign languages is known to be a powerful means of developing long-lasting, high-level capacities such as critical thinking.
Even that may not be the whole story. In a hollowing-out economy, in a state with a high unemployment rate parents are understandably worried about courses that do not demonstrably lead to job opportunities. How much are they steering their kids away from what might in fact be the best educational course for them?
The good news is that students are leading the charge against the proposed change. If you want to join them send a message to all the School Board Members and the Superintendent's Office, at:firstname.lastname@example.org."