Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
As ARLnow.com reported last week, a group of parents has petitioned Arlington Public Schools to inaugurate a new French immersion elementary school. Their motives are good, but their timing is not.
It’s been 15 years since I chaired what is now known as the World Languages Advisory Committee to APS. As chair, I was one of many civic activists who pressed APS to introduce Foreign Language in Elementary School (FLES) programs.
At that time, APS had no FLES programs and was actively resisting their introduction. Through the persistent efforts of that committee, combined with effective advocacy by hundreds of parents, APS finally began to roll out FLES.
Introduction of FLES was slowed during the Great Recession. Largely due to the outstanding energy and efforts of a new parent advocacy group, FLES for All, the introduction of FLES has resumed. But, some elementary schools still lack it:
Only 17 out of 22 Arlington elementary schools have foreign language education — leaving over 2,000 students without foreign language instruction until 7th grade. ATS, Arlington Science Focus, Taylor and Long Branch are remaining to receive FLES and a full week of instruction. (Hoffman-Boston has [a] full week of instruction but no FLES, Abingdon has early language instruction but not K-5 FLES)
APS superintendent Patrick Murphy has stated that unless APS receives sufficient additional FY 2016 funding from the county, APS will not be able to complete the FLES rollout because APS will have to defer the elimination of early release Wednesday (ERW) at the elementary schools that still lack FLES.
APS consistently has taken the position that there “isn’t room in the school day” for FLES programs at ERW elementary schools. Most Arlington citizens without children are surprised and angry to learn that school ends at 1:21 p.m. every Wednesday at those elementary schools that still retain ERW.
Given the tight budget constraints facing APS and the County, APS should assign priority to the completion of the rollout of FLES at the elementary schools that still lack FLES. This rollout should be completed before APS begins to offer more immersion programs. After the FLES rollout is complete, APS should design a transparent process to consider additional immersion programs. (There currently are two Spanish immersion elementary programs offered at Claremont and Key.)
As we move forward, APS needs to treat World Languages as a core subject, and incorporate more language opportunities throughout the week to ensure maximum benefits. APS should try to increase the number of different languages it currently offers.
It’s taken 15 years to introduce FLES in 17 Arlington elementary schools. The rollout of FLES is almost complete. Let’s finish the job.
Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.
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Share your input on the Arlington Forestry and Natural Resources Plan by October 3.
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9th Street Chamber Music is back in business for its second season! 9SCM is disrupting the stereotypes of classical music as stuffy, dry, and elite through dynamic yet accessible performances and its one-of-a-kind String Quartet Intensive for young musicians in the DC Metro area.[9th Street Quartet](https://www.9thstreetchambermusic.com/9th-street- quartet)’s first concert is on Sunday, October 16 at 4:00 PM. The group will offer, for the first time, a ‘Playlist Shuffle’ themed concert featuring single movements of string quartet favorites. Tickets for this concert can be found here, and are $20 for adults and FREE for all students under 18.
Rehearsals began Monday, September 27 for the String Quartet Intensive, welcoming 32 new and returning members to the program. These talented musicians in grades 7 through 12 represent over fifteen area schools throughout Northern Virginia, DC and Maryland, and are an integral part of the growing 9SCM community. Their first performance will take place on Monday, November 28 at 7:30 PM.
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Just hop aboard The Lunch Train and set the destination for: breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or nightlife!
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Join us as we explore Vini Franchetti & their two sister vineyards Passopisciaro (Sicily) and Vini Franchetti (Tuscany) for our Sicily/Tuscany Wine Dinner!
Sunday, Oct 9 @ 6pm
Special Guest: This wine dinner we will be hosting the wine maker