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Keep Passport to Spanish at 90 minutes per week. Don't FLEX on FLES!

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HPISD Parents,

It has come to my attention that our campus principals and district leadership are planning to reduce our Passport to Spanish program from 90 minutes to 60 minutes per week.  This will cut 1/3 of the program.  This cut will negatively affect the program goal of fluency by 6th grade and could result in the eventual elimination of the program.  

When the program was designed three years ago, fluency was a key component of the discussion.  Any program without a fluency goal was seen to be just checking a box and not worthy of our investment.  Reducing the program to 60 minutes (2 times/week) effectively removes the fluency component and makes our stellar Foreign Language Elementary School (FLES) program into an average Spanish Exploration (FLEX) program with no goal of fluency above the most basic level.  

The decision has not been made...but we need your support.  Please take a few moments to sign this petition and let our district know that we value this program as it was originally designed, three 30 minute classes totaling 90 minutes per week.   

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Passport to Spanish is a Foreign Language Elementary School program known as FLES for short.  The curriculum was designed for three class meetings per week of 30 minutes each.  

As outlined on the HPISD website, 90 minutes per week is the research-proven minimum time allotment recommended to gain effective proficiency in second language acquisition.  

A few questions have been asked since we learned of the potential reduction of this program…

1.       Why does it matter?

2.       Some Spanish is better that no Spanish?

3.       What about core?

“Why does it matter?”

In 2000, there were an estimated 260 dual-language programs in the U.S.  According to an article out of the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2011, it’s estimated that the number has reached 2,000.  Including FLES programs, the 2017 likely number 4,000+. 

A study of 85,662 students in North Carolina Public Schools during the 2009-10 school year found that overall, English-language learners in two-way dual-language programs had higher reading and math scores. At the middle school level, most students in these programs were scoring higher than monolingual students in the grade above them, and in some cases two grade levels higher than their current academic year.

Our district is committed to addressing inclusion and diversity in our curriculum and in our community.  What better way to promote global understanding than with a thriving FLES program.

“Some Spanish is better than no Spanish?”

Research shows that 60 minutes per week promotes exploration, not acquisition.  The 30 additional minutes allow for time on task in a small group setting which is critical for language acquisition.

“What about Core?  “FLES time takes away from Core instruction time.”   

Our incoming 3rd graders have 3 years of Spanish under their belt.  They are fully capable of doing science experiments in the context of Spanish, learning geography in the context of Spanish and maybe even learning Texas history in Spanish.  30 minutes of our FLES content based program will contribute to the state standards, not take away from them. 

Two years ago the district responded to overwhelming requests for a FLES program at the elementary level.  We cared so much that we expanded the school day for our kinder and first grade students.  We added 30 minutes to the kindergarten school day and 15 minutes to the first grade school day to make room for the FLES instruction time.    

Our program is second to none and will likely be award winning the future.  On top of that, our kids love it!  They are excited about learning, love using their language and are unafraid to speak in public and show off what they’ve learned. 

Trustees and District Leadership, please protect this program, and keep the Passport to Spanish program as designed, at 90 minutes per week.  

Our kids love it, our parents and PTA support it, and we are counting on you to make sure it continues. 

Jade Edwards

 



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