Is French program headed for guillotine at Manchester's Memorial Elementary School?

The Gloucester Times ran this story on January 27, 2009. Scrapping French-language programs in schools is a good idea since French as a subject is a waste of taxpayers' money, while languages such as Mandarin Chinese or Spanish are going to be more and more in demand.

Is French program headed for guillotine at Manchester's Memorial Elementary School?
By Robert Cann
Staff Writer

MANCHESTER — Proposed cuts to Memorial Elementary School's French language program will be among the items on the table tonight as part of a budget workshop hosted by the Manchester Essex Regional School Committee.

At an earlier School Committee meeting, Superintendent Marcia O'Neil proposed that the French program at the elementary school be cut as a part of a reallocation of funds.

Since that Jan. 6 meeting, however, committee members, parents and language teachers have demonstrated strong opposition to the proposal.

At last week's School Committee meeting, Manchester Essex Regional Middle School French and Spanish teacher Dorris-Ann Vosseler suggested introducing an "exploratory" language program in both elementary schools — Memorial in Manchester, and Essex Elementary.

The exploratory program would share one teacher between the Manchester and Essex elementary schools, with that instructor teaching Spanish for one semester and French the other, giving students at both schools the opportunity to try both languages. Essex Elementary does not now offer French.

According to School Committee Chairwoman Susan Beckmann, Vosseler's proposal will be given more consideration this evening.

Vosseler said the district's program has traditionally been very successful. Last June, four seniors received linguist awards for completing all four advanced placement language courses offered: French language and literature, and Spanish language and literature.

Vosseler referred to the district's language program as a "marble column that could be devastated by these cuts."

The meeting will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the high school music room.

Robert Cann can be reached at gt_reporter@gloucestertimes.com

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