My name is Marisa O'Gara, and I'm a recent graduate holding a degree in French from the University of Rhode Island. Having access to French classes in middle school and high school helped prepare me for the courses I took in college that subsequently shaped me into a more effective communicator and a more culturally competent individual. Given my experience, I know first-hand how crucial it is that public schools offer students the opportunity to begin their study of French and other foreign languages at a young age.
Speaking French is important in the homes, careers, and travel plans of American citizens. On a professional level, we live in a globalized world that necessitates cross-linguistic communication in all career fields. On a cognitive level, recent studies tell us that youth learning foreign languages consistently demonstrate heightened critical thinking skills, as well as score higher on both verbal and math sections of standardized tests. French, specifically, is a language spoken on 5 continents and in over 40 countries. It is the second most used language on the internet, an official language of our largest trading partner, Canada, and a language spoken in the homes of over 1.8 million Americans. French is also an official language of several international organizations, including UNESCO, NATO, and the Olympics, France is the most visited country in the world, and Paris is the most visited city in the world.
All this considered, public school officials in Westerly, Rhode Island are aiming to try and cut French language classes at both the middle and high school, an action which will inevitably deprive our students of an invaluable opportunity to strengthen their minds. Westerly High School student Ruedi Hauser says, "[I], and many others who are learning the language, are very concerned and upset that cutting the French program is even an option to be considered."
Please give Ruedi and other Westerly Public School students the same opportunity I had and help save their French program by signing our petition!