Why wasn’t I given chance to try and fix the program?

June 13, 2014

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing in regards to the budget cuts that Farwell School Board approved at their last meeting.  One of the main cuts they decided on was the Chinese Immersion Program in the Elementary Schools.  They said they would be saving over $214,000 by cutting this program, but failed to mention (in previous meeting just a few days prior to board meeting) that they would then have to approve the hiring of a new teacher at the cost of $61,000.  Now they are really only saving $153,000 by cutting the immersion program.

I know that this sounds like a lot of money when your school is facing budget issues.  I agree, however, I feel the superintendent only gave us as parents less than a week of notice that the program was on the chopping block.  Yet he knew in September that there could be a possibility that the program was facing financial trouble.  I as a parent who was told if I signed my child up for this program there was no getting out we were committed until the fourth grade! I was told there was funding for the program (1.2 million to be exact).  Why after I was made these promised was I not notified earlier in the year that the program was facing being cut?  Why was I under estimated as a parent?  Why wasn’t I given the opportunity to try and help fix this problem?  Put a committee together to write grants, pass pledge sheets around, and come up with an alternative.  If I had been given the respect I deserved and failed to produce, then I could see them just cutting this program.

I am sure many people don’t fully understand what an immersion class is all about so they don’t think it’s a big deal ‘cutting a foreign language.’  Problem is that it’s much more than just speaking Chinese.  These children spend half their day LEARNING in Chinese.  They are not just taught to speak or write the language.  They do not learn some subjects in their regular English class.  An example of this is math.

We were told at one of our first meeting that these kids maybe behind their peers for the first three to four years, but once they reached that fourth and fifth year they would excel above and beyond their peers.  My fear is that my child is now going to fall behind their peers.  I have four children that participate in the program.  One of them is a special needs child.  I am concerned more for his learning growth than the others.  I am afraid my choice to put him in this program is going to leave him behind.  I had this same concern at the beginning of the year, but was still told that by the time he reached fourth grade he would be on track and there was no getting out of the program.  I believe in this program.  I have seen it WORK!  This special needs child is doing amazing in his Chinese class.  His grades (marks) were much better in his Chinese class than his English class (which was opposite for my other child).  This tells me that he finally found an outlet that could make him feel normal as he gets older.

I am very upset that Farwell Schools can make false promises to me and put my children’s learning at risk.  We are already at a disadvantage of many schools because of our demographics.  We don’t have all the ‘perks’ of being a larger wealthy school.  Now my children and the others forced out of the immersion program have to work harder at getting caught up.  For some that may sound easy, for my Tyrek it’s going to be a struggle!

I would like to urge the community to ban together with me and many other parents to save this program.  We can use your pledges and donations to reinstate this program!  Let’s show our school system that these children matter to us and we want to make sure they are given the chance to be successful!

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Holly Thrush-Stover

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