Parents protest Chicago-area immersion school

Here’s what can happen when tight educational resources pit parents against each other.

The Chicago Tribune reports:

“A group of residents in Lake Forest say they’re angry at the Lake Forest School District 67 board for continuing a Mandarin Chinese language program at CherokeeElementary School despite a lack of state funding….

Some parents argue the program has created divisions resulting in an at-times hostile environment in the school. District officials respond that they’re looking into the culture created by the program, but say its educational successes are clear.”

This is why it’s important to create inclusive school atmospheres. If we hold a Chinese activity at school, for example, we invite all students and bill it as a multicultural opportunity. Utah also consciously designed its program to avoid arguments over funding.

In Utah school funding follows the student and is constant, whether that student is in an immersion classroom or a traditional classroom. So the myth that immersion programs cost extra money simply isn’t true.

Utah has also done a good job at keeping up with demand for immersion programs, growing them at rates unprecedented nationally. This isn’t to say there aren’t districts with waiting lists. But if you’re willing to drive your student to a non-neighborhood school, or another district, chances are good you’ll find a program.

To argue against immersion programs is like saying we should abolish all magnet programs along with special and gifted education classes. Why deny a child a chance at an appropriate education just because your child’s educational needs are different?

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