School systems fail to keep up with changing American society

Roxy Hammond

Roxy Hammond

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about how my Spanish classes were killing me.

Around the same time, the Sioux Falls school district announced they were going to start the first Spanish-immersion program at Rosa Parks Elementary School. Cool, I thought. Start those poor little suckers out early so they’re not suffering through their college level classes as I am.

Unfortunately, there has been an outpouring of (much expected) toxic, malicious responses from many of the citizens of South Dakota; blaming us for catering to immigrants and robbing our children of their rightful ‘more useful’ education, etc. Everything you would expect from someone who does not realize that the world is changing around them, whether they like it or not. And really, I have one thing to say to them:

No me digas.

You see, I am a little touchy about this. As you may have read before, I have spent the last five years catching up on the lack of language education I received growing up. Was there even the option for Spanish when I was in elementary school? No! Do you know how awesome it would have been if I could have learned a language when my mind was young and impressionable, instead of passing into that hardening adulthood frame of mind?

Instead, I went to a high school where they suggested two years of language ‘if you planned on going to college out of state’. Never mind the other educational benefits.

What these misguided people are failing to realize is that learning a language IS educationally beneficial, even if they never need it for their job. Studying languages improves your linguistic and writing abilities and your cultural understanding, and?holy crap, makes you more aware of the idiosyncrasies of your own native language! What? Something foreign might positively affect your own cultural identity.

Don’t believe me? Study another language. Or at least let your children try it.

We are not catering to immigrants, or losing our ‘American’ roots by branching out into other languages. While I agree that it is important to have a standard language in a country, it is also important to realize that this country is MADE of immigrants. It is our rich diversity that makes us who we are, not because we are a bunch of cookie-cutter white middle-class yuppies.

Oh, and never mind that the rest of the developed nations in the world are currently lapping us in language education in their schools. Are you bilingual? No? Then you must be American.

I don’t like the stereotypes either, which is why it angers me when people start lashing out at change. Take it from me, a 22-year-old currently struggling through Spanish: teach your kids another language. Allow them to be exposed to it at a young age, so they can start building their knowledge of it. It is scientifically proven that our brains do not learn as quickly the older we get. Do not make them suffer through what I am suffering through now.

Just because you feel that abstaining from language classes will make the problem go away does not mean you are not robbing your children of precious time they could be expanding their horizons. While it is our place to lead children among the right paths to adulthood, narrowing their path for the sake of your own patriotic ideologies is not the answer.

I wish Spanish classes had been available to me when I was young. This column would be obsolete, and I could have spent more time expanding my knowledge in other areas, instead of embarking on the daunting task of studying another language the older I got.

Teach the kids. An enlightened mind is never regretted.

#1.882518:1072751925.jpg:Hammond, Roxy.jpg:Roxy Hammond, Sarcastic Cynicisms: