Mandatory Spanish Classes for 5- to 7-year-olds?

Florida Senate Bill 522 (.pdf here) will mandate Spanish language instruction for all kindergartners through second graders. Let’s take a look at the bill:

Districtwide Spanish instruction in K through 2; requirements; funding.

The above sentence just describes what is to follow.

–By the 2007-2008 school year, each school district shall implement a districtwide foreign language program to provide students in kindergarten through grade 2 with instruction in the Spanish language which is designed to result in the student’s communicating competently in Spanish at his or her grade level.

Senator Miller does state this is a foreign language. He wants 5- to 7-year-olds to be communicating competently in Spanish at his or her grade level. What about requiring students to communicate competently in English?

Each student in the program must be provided with a minimum of 20 to 45 minutes of instruction, 5 days a week, from a certified Spanish-language specialist.

A minimum of 20 minutes and a maximum of 45 minutes? This isn’t really very clear. A minimum is the smallest acceptable. Senator Miller has specified a range. Also, this is a five day a week program. We need to mandate a five day a week program when subjects such as physical education (much more important to the physical well-being of a child) have been cut back to two or three days a week? Ah, here’s the real reason… Jobs. The bill calls for a certified Spanish-language instructor. Let’s just bloat the system fuller than it already is.

The Spanish instructor and the classroom teacher must collaborate during the periods of instruction.

Who will be “in charge”? The regular classroom teacher or the certified Spanish-language instructor? Will the regular lesson be incorporated into the Spanish lesson, or will the regular lesson just be shunted aside?

The school district may use grant funds or private funds, as well as state funding, to support the program.

In other words, you figure out how to fund this mandate.

I understand that there are quite a few Spanish speakers in Florida. I understand that some children have parents/others in their household who speak only Spanish or speak only minimal English. But how does teaching all children Spanish help this? What about immigrants from Japan, Germany, France, Romania, India, etc? Why should Spanish be the mandated language in a country where most people speak English?

This reminds me of the woman at Kindergarten screening who, when asked if she wanted a bilingual aide, said, “We speak English. We are from Romania.”

Amazing. I first learned of this from Lady Jane at A Lady’s Ruminations. She got it from Drudge. They both quote this from NBC-2. I found two more articles pertaining to this as well as the above quoted bill text.

Article one from the Tampa Tribune quotes Dorothy Carregal, superintendent of foreign languages for Hillsborough schools as saying, “And even if they give us the money, finding the teachers would be very difficult”.

An editorial in the Lakeland Ledger asks: “But where’s the money?”

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