Urbana school board approves dual-language proposal

Urbana school board approves dual-language proposal

URBANA - The Urbana school board unanimously voted Tuesday to start a dual-language program within the school district.

The board also decided to put those classes in two different schools, although they didn't decide where they will be.

Board President John Dimit and board member Elaine Gehrmann will form a committee to meet with Director of Bilingual and Multicultural Programs Joe Wiemelt to look at where those programs should be located. That committee will report back to the board at a special meeting 7:30 p.m. Jan 30, at the district's administrative service center.

However, there's a timeline on that decision – Gehrmann asked the board to make a decision before the district's elementary attendance redistricting committee meets Feb. 2 with the Champaign County GIS Consortium to start working out new elementary attendance maps.

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kiel wrote on January 18, 2012 at 6:01 am

I applaud any move that creates linguistic opportunities for students! There are significant economic, cognitive, and social benefits to bilingualism/multilingualism, and investment in such programs is one of the smartest educational policies we can enact. 

But it would have been nice if the N-G had put in the effort to explain what a "dual language" program is, what language(s) were involved, and the evidence/arguments that swayed the board to vote in favor of the program. Little blurbs like these are worse than not reporting the story at all. 

Mike Howie wrote on January 18, 2012 at 7:01 am
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Thanks for the note. This was a brief story to update one that appeared earlier in the day, but you raise a good point. I'll add a link to the earlier story.

Mike Howie

online editor

mankind wrote on January 18, 2012 at 9:01 am

Good for Urbana. I hope Champaign does the same. This is good for cognitive abilities, plus good, old-fashioned facing reality.

cab wrote on January 18, 2012 at 6:01 pm

WHAT?????

cab wrote on January 18, 2012 at 6:01 pm

As I stated yesterday, This is a complete waist of taxpayer money.  Enstead of teaching Spanish, why dont they try teaching English???   Or the way this country is heading just teach Spanish.

JBK wrote on January 18, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Indeed, this is a waste of taxpayer money as most public-schooling tends to be, but at least the disingenuous liberals will be able to sleep soundly at night knowing that they have helped made our schools a little more "diverse" and "multi-cultural." I don't have the heart to explain to them that our Hispanic amigos speak a language brought over from Europe by white people.

By the way, I noticed that your comment on yesterday's article has been "disappeared" by the News-Gazette. In fact, commenting has been completely disabled. Any thoughts on that? Perhaps too many subsequent commentators dared to agree with you.

kem254 wrote on January 20, 2012 at 9:01 pm

I recognize that this is your opinion, as well as the individual who posted after you, and I respect that, but I believe it is important to discuss what a dual language program's objectives are.  You say that they need to "try teaching English", but one of the main objectives of dual language is English proficiency.  In addition to English proficiency, strong academic achievement is also an objective.  On top of that, Spanish proficiency is a third objective.  So, your comment seems to paint a picture of inaccuracy, somehow suggesting that Spanish proficiency is the only objective of this program.  Additionally, some would argue that not providing our youth with the opportunity to achieve these objectives would be, as you describe, a "waist of tax payer money". 

And, as demonstrated time and again, just teaching English does not ensure proper English grammar and spelling by those who are studying in English only.  As I'm sure you know, not everyone who is a monolingual English speaker has a firm grasp of the English language.  

It seems to me that an education that prepares today's youth for life in the 21st century, which is becoming more global by the day, is essential for our youth, our society, and our future.  I commend the Urbana School District for their efforts in working to afford our future leaders the opportunity to develop as bilingual learners for an increasingly diverse world.