Petition to U.S. House of Representatives, Bernie Sanders
Make Navajo an elective language in U.S. public schools
Navajo is the most widely spoken Amerindian language within the borders of the United States, with 170,000 speakers. It would be a great investment in American culture and education to give students the option to choose an indigenous language as an elective in public schools. Learning a language not only improves the function of the brain and teaches the value of discipline and hardwork, but there is also the benefit of seeing the world in the terms of the people who speak that language, and so teaching Navajo would allow students across the US to expand their understanding of the world and see it in the terms of the indigenous people of this continent.
Petition to Sunnyvale School District
Parents for Equitable Language Learning
We are parents who are for Equitable Language Learning. We would like Sunnyvale School District (SSD) to include in-school language lessons for ALL students instead of the proposed Mandarin Immersion Program. Advocates for the Mandarin Immersion Program have said that the proposed immersion program will help our district meet the Global California 2030 initiative. Language learning for all students at a school is a much more equitable way to achieve the same goal of the Global California 2030 Initiative. For example, if language classes are offered for all students at Cherry Chase, they will include three times as many students than the proposed immersion program. The purpose of the Global California 2030 Initiative is to help the majority of K-12 students in California become proficient in more than one language. At Cherry Chase, we currently have NO in-school language classes. The Sunnyvale School District’s June 2019 dual-language survey results indicated that Spanish was the most desired non-English language. Many Sunnyvale parents would love for their children to learn and become proficient in Spanish, even if they would not enroll them in an immersion program for it. We need a more inclusive, non-immersion option for students to learn another language in school It is entirely possible to achieve proficiency through language classes if introduced at a young age. At the elementary grade level, we have the opportunity to do that. It has been projected that Cherry Chase will educate 18% of SSD elementary students in 2021-22. Cumberland will educate another 18%, and Ellis is projected to educate 17.5%. We do not know if these numbers will remain true after the pandemic is over. But, if they do, then introducing language classes into these three schools alone would enable SSD to set 53.5% of its elementary students on a path to proficiency, thus achieving the primary objective of the Global California 2030 initiative. In contrast, an immersion program at maximum capacity would only reach only 7% of the district’s elementary students when it is fully rolled out to K-5 grades. We propose that Spanish classes for all students be rolled out as a pilot program at Cherry Chase. After that, similar programs can be rolled out in a phased approach to Cumberland, Ellis, and the other schools in SSD. This will enable all K-5 students in our district to become proficient in more than one language. Language programs for all students at each school could then be enhanced in subsequent years to include additional languages of choice, such as Mandarin (the second language of choice from the survey). In addition, we propose that the language electives be expanded to all grades 6-8 at Sunnyvale Middle School and Columbia Middle School, instead of the current approach of offering Spanish only in grade 8. By doing so, SSD will provide all students a middle-school pathway for language learning and could potentially set 78% of its students on the path for language excellence. This year, the theme of SSD’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) is Equity. It is our understanding that some of the funding for the Mandarin Immersion Program will come from LCAP funding. How can a school where only one-third of the student body has an opportunity to learn another language be considered equitable? We ask SSD to embrace equity and provide language classes for ALL students.
Petition to Jefferson Parish School Board
Save French Immersion in Jefferson Parish Louisiana
On April 1 Jefferson Parish informed parents that they have decided to "phase out" the current French Immersion program. Now that the application window has come and gone in Jefferson and surrounding parishes, those of us who signed up our 5 year olds to attend the school back in February are left with little options on where our kids will be this September. As a parent that has a child already enrolled in the program this is very concerning, but even more for our teachers! They received NO heads up that this could possibly happen! THIS WAS NEVER EVEN DISCUSSED AT A SCHOOL BOARD MEETING! To eliminate an established program that is a part of Louisiana Heritage and actually saves the parish money (Louisiana Dept.of Education actually pays a portion of the teachers salaries) is just silly in my mind! At a meeting with the compliance office I was told that there was also a "lack of interest " from the parents of Jefferson Parish. This fact amazes me! Not even a 10 minute drive from my home there is another public French Immersion school, in Orleans, THAT always has a wait list! This is where I need your help! We need to show the Jefferson Parish School Board and the Superintendent that there is interest in this program! If we have 25 parents that want to enroll their child into the Kindergarten program for the 2019-2020 school year, we can prove that there is interest AND the program should continue!
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The Restoration of African Languages in Florida Schools
According to a 2012 article in Education Week, "91 percent of public schools offer foreign language instruction at the high school level, with only about 58 percent of middle schools and 25 percent of elementary schools offering foreign language instruction" in the United States with the most widely taught languages being Spanish, French, Latin, and Chinese in all 50 states. According to the 2017 National K-16 Foreign Language Enrollment Survey Report, language instruction in Swahili or any other African languages in U.S. schools is almost nonexistent. Currently, there are only a handful of primary schools and about 100 colleges offering African languages in their foreign language programs across the country; pressing communities of color to seek private and at times costly alternatives to provide language instruction and cultural restoration for their communities. Due to slavery most African Americans have limited knowledge of their language heritage. Colonization further impeded on the proper development of a cultural identity. State mandated laws prohibited the practice of African and Indigenous cultures to further isolate Africans enslaved in America from any proper remembrance of their continent, countries, tribes, language or culture. Upon the 400 year anniversary of the oppressive injustice of bringing and enslaving Africans in America (starting in 1619) and the continuous degradation of the African Descendants of Slaves, we are asking for the restoration of African language in our American educational systems starting here in Florida. This proposed legislation will request that African Descendants of Slaves, as well as others, are able to learn Swahili, Twi, and Yoruba. These African languages were chosen because Swahili is the most widely spoken language on the continent of Africa. Twi is the most widely spoken language in the country of Ghana. Yoruba, being the most widely spoken language in West Africa, is an important component to understanding many ancient African practices. We also ask that our state’s language restoration program include access to language instruction that teaches the ancient languages of Hebrew and Arabic. This would be a tremendous help to families interested in furthering their understanding of ancient text and ancient world history, "Encourage(ing) tolerance of diversity for nurturing and protecting democratic values and institutions". FL Statute 1003.42 (g) By incorporating the ability to learn African Languages into our Florida Educational Curriculum, this allows many schools to further adhere to the Florida Statute 1003.42 (h) that stipulates, "the history of African people before the political conflicts that led to the development of slavery" should be taught in schools. Just like Spanish language instruction showcases Hispanic Heritage from a pluralistic world and cultural view, much of the history and culture that predates the enslavement of African people can be taught to African Descendants of Slaves and other students while learning the languages associated with Africa. This would allow African cultural practices to thrive and encourage other students interested in learning about Africa to be able to access this information in our ever changing world. In August 2015 the independent Swedish foundation, Gapminder, tweeted: "the biggest change of our time? Africa's increase from 1 to 4 billion people!" by the year 2100 would change the world. Projections of the impact on the population boom with "more than half of global population growth between now and 2050...expected to occur in Africa," according to the United Nations, with an additional "2.4 billion people projected to be added to the global population between 2015 and 2050...1.3 billion will be added in Africa." This means that the way we prepare our children for international business must change how we look at language instruction in our own countries. Options to study African languages and understand more than one foreign language are a necessity for the future development of our ever-changing business markets. As populations change over time, like China's population boom in the 1990's, and South America's population boom in the the early 2000's. It's imperative that our educational landscape is reflective of the international business opportunities that will occur in the coming years, and that starts by allowing all Florida children to have instruction in African languages from kindergarten through 12th grade. PLEASE SUPPORT THE RESTORATION OF AFRICAN LANGUAGES IN ALL FLORIDA PUBLIC SCHOOLS BY SIGNING THIS PETITION! Thank You!