Letter: Keep Chinese program

Editor, The Spotlight:

As parents of students in the Bethlehem School District, we are dismayed at the phase out of the Chinese language program included in the tentative budget adopted by the Bethlehem Board of Education. Three key issues that concern us and should also concern the district as a whole need to be considered by the board.

  1. Within its plan for budget reduction, the Chinese program is the only academic program being completely eliminated. Yet the district spent considerable time and effort establishing this innovative program.

  2. Eliminating the Chinese program runs counter to the 21st century learning on which the district prides itself — a philosophy that has made Bethlehem one of the best school districts in New York. Foreign language instruction is an integral component to a robust college preparatory program. Eliminating the Chinese program has the potential to reduce the District’s regional and state competitive standing.

  3. The establishment of the Chinese Language program was premised on the acknowledgement that we live in a global world, driven more and more by China and Asia. Knowledge of Chinese will make Bethlehem students more competitive in both their future academic and work settings.

We understand and appreciate the dire financial straits facing the school district. However we believe that eliminating Chinese is short sighted. The district’s financial situation will eventually improve, and there is no doubt that the Chinese language will still be a dominant language in our global economy. Instead of phasing out Chinese only to have to phase it back in once this District reaches solid financial ground; why not look for other ways to save the Chinese program? Whether through other non-academic cuts, or through external grant opportunities, we should take the “high-road” to maintain Bethlehem’s academic excellence.

We sincerely hope that the District will re-evaluate its decision.

Chuck Agnew, David Barnet, Christine Beck, Craig & Joanna Goldberg, Becky Lane, Susan Macmillan, Anne Marie & Chris O’Grady, Peter & Mary Beth Potter, Jeffrey Randles, Kelly & Michael Reickert, Julia Richards, Mary Ryther, Cary & Christine Sancilio, Margaret & Robert Taranto, Hunter & Weatherly Webb, Ilyse Weinstein, John & Lisa Wilkinson, Sheila & Pete Wrede

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