As parents, grandparents, educators, taxpayers, business owners, and community leaders, we urge you to reject the LCSB’s decision to:
· Cut 1st , 2nd, and 3rd grade FLES instruction completely
· Reduce 4th and 5th grade FLES instruction to a mere half hour once a week
THE LOUDOUN COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD (LCSB) in an unprecedented move has slashed the Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools (FLES) Program with the open intention to remove it totally from the academic program. This Board has shown a willingness to end the district’s commitment to providing a cutting edge education to its children and forfeit its role as a leader amongst school districts. As neighboring school districts like Fairfax and Prince George’s County expand their foreign language programs, our school Board is shrinking the FLES Program to anemic levels that all but guarantee the program’s demise going forward.
FLES is a unique, ten year old Spanish language instruction program that targets over 40,000 elementary school students in Loudoun County. This program has placed our county as one of the most innovative educational systems in the nation. Students exiting the FLES program in 5th Grade surpass the National Standard of language acquisition set forth by the American Council of Teaching Foreign Language.
The FLES model at Loudoun County has served as a guideline for other school districts to model their own foreign language programs. This includes Howard County, Newport News, Falls Church, and various private schools among others. With this decision, the newly elected school board will place Virginia behind other states that have made the move to implement mandatory foreign language education. The state of Utah, with fewer resources than Virginia, is leading the nation in world language programs. However, our own newly elected LCSB does not understand the important role that the FLES program plays in providing our children with critical thinking skills and preparing them to succeed in a 21st Century global community. Countless research supports the advantages of learning a foreign language before the age of 12, yet this Board has yet to acknowledge the following. FLES:
- Students are more likely to achieve a native-like pronunciation than students who did not study a language before the age of 12
- Develops students’ cognitive skills and supports other content areas such as reading and math
- Increases creativity, critical thinking, and flexibility of mind
- Provides a better understanding of the English language
- Provides a well-rounded curriculum and educates the whole child.
- Increases global awareness and cultural understanding
- Increases job marketability
- Learned language skills are transferable to other languages
- Increases readiness and boosts confidence for Middle School, High School and College Education in Foreign Language studies
- Strengthen problem solving capabilities and increases memory function
FLES is not a budgetary expense. It is an investment in the future of our children. Its cost of $100 dollars per student per year (.58 cents per day) is meaningless when we compare this amount to the benefits. Foreign Language education is considered one of the most important 21st century skills we can provide our children as they prepare to live and work in a global society.
Reinstate the FLES Program
Providing our students with better, broader skills in languages other than English is a critical part of part of preparing them for life and careers beyond their education . Studying and acquiring languages has benefits that make our children more successful students, more attractive college applicants and employment candidates, and more valuable members of society.