Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News
Kalona, Iowa

Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News

April 26, 2018 Mid-Prairie cuts class on Chinese
Article Pages -- as published on the The Kalona News website.

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The Mid-Prairie school district is shifting its foreign language focus.

The school board voted Monday to not seek an elementary Chinese teacher, essentially eliminating the Chinese language program in the elementary schools.

The district will instead focus on Spanish, which is offered in all grades.

The K-4 Chinese program has been in place for at least 10 years. Instructor Jean Hussey opted in the fall to accept an early retirement package at the end of the school year, leaving the school board with the decision whether to seek another Chinese instructor.

“I wouldn’t want to limit the amount of foreign language students are getting,” board President Jeremy Pickard said. “If we elect not to go after a Chinese instructor, I really would like to fill that with Spanish, so we’re not reducing the amount of foreign language our students get.”

He added: “Although Chinese is the most spoken native language in the world, in our area, it makes sense to focus on Spanish. My thought would be to move the focus to Spanish.”

The consensus among board members was that they would like to see a progressive Spanish program that builds year to year from elementary school through high school.

“It would be a nice opportunity to have for the kids to learn (Spanish) from when they’re a kindergartener to when they’re a senior,” board member Gabrielle Frederick said. “I think it’s important that we offer that.”

Added Marianne Schlabach: “My concern is making sure if we do concentrate on Spanish that we have building blocks, like learning your basics as a young learner.”

Board members praised the Chinese program, but expressed concerns over whether it is practical to continue.

“I feel like we can’t support two languages,” Pickard said. “We look at which one makes the most sense. I see Spanish being more beneficial to most of our students.”

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