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KCS Language could suffer from budget woes


Just as President George W. Bush III and local leaders stress that additional languages need to be taught in public schools, Knox County is struggling with its budget, and is considering cutting back its foreign language program.

Bush unveiled his National Security Language Initiative several weeks ago. Congress will vote later this year on the $114 million proposal, said Chad Colby, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education. Colby said that interested schools can request to be part of the pilot program slated to begin in 2007, and may apply for the grant money that will be set aside.

Ed Hedgepeth, director of KCS high schools, said Knox County Schools “certainly” would be interested in participating in a pilot program if the opportunity were available.

The language proposal would eventually introduce languages such as Arabic, Chinese and Russian to elementary students as early as kindergarten.

Dr. Allen G. Edwards, Pellissippi State Technical Community College president, attended the summit in Washington, D.C., where the proposal was rolled out.

Dr. Jeffrey Wadsworth, Oak Ridge National Laboratory director, spoke recently at a Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

He, too, pointed out that in order to stay competitive with industry overseas, Americans will have to learn other languages.

Knox County is already behind other local systems in the foreign language department. Middle schoolers in Oak Ridge and Maryville can enter high school with one of their two required foreign language credits in place. Oak Ridge middle schools offer Spanish and French, and Maryville Middle School offers Spanish, French and Latin.

Knox County offers foreign language classes in only a few middle schools, and none that feed Farragut High School. Bearden, South-Doyle, Powell, Vine and Carter are the only middle schools with any type of foreign language program, and according to one Board member those are in danger.

“We don’t want to cut any program,” said Charles “Chuck” James, 6th District Board of Education representative. It’s been discussed to cut some of the foreign language out of the middle schools.”

Hedgepeth said Knox County Schools is “always in constant discussion about what the languages should be and whether we should increase the number of languages.

“On the one hand, we’re always looking at what languages we should be teaching our students. On the other hand there’s always the current budget crisis.”

Knox County Mayor Michael “Mike” Ragsdale said, “Dr. Wadsworth makes some great points. I do think it’s important that we branch out and teach some other languages.” The caveat, he said, is that many students are still behind grade level in reading by third grade. They need to know our language before they learn a foreign language.”n Carolyn Evans cevans@farragutpress.com



Just as President George W. Bush III and local leaders stress that additional languages need to be taught in public schools, Knox County is struggling with its budget, and is considering cutting back its foreign language program.

Bush unveiled his National Security Language Initiative several weeks ago. Congress will vote later this year on the $114 million proposal, said Chad Colby, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education. Colby said that interested schools can request to be part of the pilot program slated to begin in 2007, and may apply for the grant money that will be set aside.

Ed Hedgepeth, director of KCS high schools, said Knox County Schools “certainly” would be interested in participating in a pilot program if the opportunity were available.

The language proposal would eventually introduce languages such as Arabic, Chinese and Russian to elementary students as early as kindergarten.

Dr. Allen G. Edwards, Pellissippi State Technical Community College president, attended the summit in Washington, D.C., where the proposal was rolled out.

Dr. Jeffrey Wadsworth, Oak Ridge National Laboratory director, spoke recently at a Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

He, too, pointed out that in order to stay competitive with industry overseas, Americans will have to learn other languages.

Knox County is already behind other local systems in the foreign language department. Middle schoolers in Oak Ridge and Maryville can enter high school with one of their two required foreign language credits in place. Oak Ridge middle schools offer Spanish and French, and Maryville Middle School offers Spanish, French and Latin.

Knox County offers foreign language classes in only a few middle schools, and none that feed Farragut High School. Bearden, South-Doyle, Powell, Vine and Carter are the only middle schools with any type of foreign language program, and according to one Board member those are in danger.

“We don’t want to cut any program,” said Charles “Chuck” James, 6th District Board of Education representative. It’s been discussed to cut some of the foreign language out of the middle schools.”

Hedgepeth said Knox County Schools is “always in constant discussion about what the languages should be and whether we should increase the number of languages.

“On the one hand, we’re always looking at what languages we should be teaching our students. On the other hand there’s always the current budget crisis.”

Knox County Mayor Michael “Mike” Ragsdale said, “Dr. Wadsworth makes some great points. I do think it’s important that we branch out and teach some other languages.” The caveat, he said, is that many students are still behind grade level in reading by third grade. They need to know our language before they learn a foreign language.”

 

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