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Bethlehem parents protest Lab School cuts

Concerns are raised about reduction in staffing for program

Bethlehem sixth-graders Aidan McNay and Morgan Leonard speak out against the proposed phase out of the Chinese program at the middle school and high school on Wednesday, April 8.

Bethlehem sixth-graders Aidan McNay and Morgan Leonard speak out against the proposed phase out of the Chinese program at the middle school and high school on Wednesday, April 8. Photo by Marcy Velte.

— “There is no way that four teachers can handle the work load of the sophomores, juniors, seniors and the freshman,” said a woman who was the parent of a Lab School student and the wife of a Lab School teacher. “Just that shift causes that problem.”

Others said having students take more classes outside the Lab School would burden then with more course work that would have to be made up when the Lab School is taken on enrichment trips.

Parents of students in the Chinese language program were also upset they were not forewarned about the upcoming change.

The school district has not only seen a drop in enrollment for Chinese classes, but has also had trouble keeping a teacher on staff. The plan was to phase out the program, with the district finding a way for high school students to continue classes to graduate and those in the middle school switching to Spanish or French.

Sixth grade students Aidan McNay and Morgan Leonard said they were just told last week they would not be allowed to take Chinese next year and were “shocked and dismayed.” They felt it was important to continue Chinese as it’s the No. 1 language in the world. Spanish is No. 6, and French is No. 10.

“This is something that not only effects sixth graders, but seventh through 10th grade throughout the district, said McNay. “We find this very aggravating.”

The pair asked to be allowed to survey the fifth grade to see how many students would like to take Chinese next year, and if there would be enough for a class.

With the Lab School’s unique situation, members of the Board asked if it would be possible to change the plan that would see students mixed into the general population. Monroe said there was no equivalent for Math 5, but they could schedule some students to possibly take language classes inside the Lab School.

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