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Split U-46 vote expands dual language program

By Seth Hancock
  The dual language program in School District U-46 will expand to the eighth grade in the 2017-18 school year after the Board of Education approved, by a 5-2 vote, that expansion on Monday, March 6.
  Between textbooks and individual titles, the total projected cost of the expansion is $194,570. Board members Cody Holt and Jeanette Ward voted no on the proposal.
  Ward, who last year voted against the program’s expansion into seventh grade, gave her reasoning in Spanish at the meeting then translated it:
  “I speak Spanish a little. I am not against learning other languages. I had two years of Spanish in high school and also took some Spanish privately to educate myself. I have many Latino friends who also helped me with this speech. My friends are from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Argentina and Panama. But the dual language program, as I have said previously, prolongs student dependence on Spanish. One of my Latino friends who helped me with this speech who had two students who graduated from U-46 agrees with me 100 percent. For this reason, I will be voting no.”
  No other board member offered their reason for their vote.
  After the meeting, The Examiner asked Ward why she decided to give her statement in Spanish. She said: “I don’t disagree with learning other languages, including Spanish. Spanish is a beautiful and fun language to speak. It’s very musical.”
  When Ward opposed the expansion to seventh grade last year, she was accused by board member Traci Ellis of “ethnocentric arrogance.” As has often been the case, Ellis not offered arguments against Ward’s positions and instead has resorted to personal attacks leading Ward, on this proposal, wanting to make the point she’s not attempting to stop students from learning other languages.
  Last year, after questioning from Ward, the administration said the district also offers an English Language Learners program that, unlike the dual language program, focuses on teaching English to students. Ward asked at the time “so those students, it would seem, would more quickly transition into English out of necessity, would they not?” but the administration was unable to answer.
  Ward also said last year that she had “it on good authority that at least one of our elementary schools, dual language instruction is entirely in Spanish,” a claim the administration also ignored.
  Board member Veronica Noland voted for both expansions and has supported the program from the start, she last year tacitly supported Ward’s concerns correct when she said the expansion was needed because Spanish-speaking students in the dual language program “would get to seventh grade” and the district needed to “hobble some kind of a Spanish class for them,” meaning those students were not prepared for English instruction.
  The board approved, by unanimous vote, an expenditure of $75,471, to come out of the education fund, with Tyler Technologies, Inc. to purchase software, $4.2 million in itemized bills and a resolution directing the administration to prepare a budget.
  Also approved unanimously was an increase in lunch prices for fully paying students from $2.80 to $2.90. Claudie Phillips, director of food and nutrition services, said the increase is needed for reimbursements from the federal government for free and reduced meals.
  Presented at the meeting for approval at the Monday, March 20 meeting were six proposals including a one-year contract renewal with Workforce Software, Inc. costing $43,148 ), a $2.6 million bid with Amber Mechanical Contractors Inc., a $931,899 bid with Northwest Contractors Inc., a $1.2 million bid with Riddiford Roofing Company, a $350,000 with F.J. Bero & Company Inc. and a $1.3 million bid with Mechanical Concepts of Illinois Inc.



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