Joanna Brody 0

Offer Spanish Language Classes in 6th Grade at CCMS

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Dear School Board Members, Superintendent Lockhart, Assistant Superintendent Pumilia, and CCMS Principal Villafranca,

We are parents and teachers at Linwood Howe who have invested blood, sweat and tears in developing our before-school Spanish language program. We created this program because of the huge demand for foreign language instruction at the elementary school level. This is a demand that the district is currently unable to meet, as evidenced by the long waiting lists at El Marino and La Ballona.

We conceived of this program in 2013 with a small group of parent volunteers, and the full support of our principal Dr. Indelicato. Soon after we began, the district supported us by providing both funding and supplies, and has continued to do so. We now feel so fortunate that because of this program, our children can attend our neighborhood school AND learn Spanish.

Four years in, our program at Lin Howe is flourishing:

• We have 200 students enrolled who arrive at school early 3 days a week to learn Spanish.

• We have a professional curriculum.

• Our native, Spanish-speaking lead teachers are trained and paid, and there is an aide in every classroom.

• For the first time this year, we have an advanced class for students who are excelling.

• Other elementary schools within CCUSD, and in neighboring districts, have sought us out in an effort to begin their own programs. The demand is growing and schools are scrambling to meet it.

The first class of Lin Howe students who began in our Spanish Language Program when they were in 2nd grade are now in 5th grade. They will be promoted to 6th grade at CCMS at the end of this school year. We were devastated to learn that there are no Spanish language courses offered to 6th graders who were not immersion students and/or are not fluent in Spanish. We know that in the recent past, there was at least one 10-week session of Spanish available on the Wheel.

We respectfully request that for the 2018-2019 school year, Culver City Middle School reinstate access to Spanish language class at a level that is appropriate for our incoming 6th graders and other non-fluent Spanish learners. Of all districts, we know that CCUSD understands, values and supports the early introduction of language, when it is most beneficial for children to learn. Allowing our children to have a one-year gap in their language acquisition journey will abruptly cut off and undermine all of the learning they have done for the past 4 years. At Lin Howe we have to fundraise each year to pay for the program (curriculum and teachers) so that any and all students can participate in the program free of charge. Based on it being offered in the past, we anticipated that by the time our children got to 6th grade, we could count on CCMS to offer Spanish as part of the integrated curriculum to those who want to continue learning. With the interest from the other schools, there will be more and more students entering 6th grade who will want this access.

We know that CCMS undertook and implemented a similar initiative not too long ago for the immersion students because parents demanded a pathway for their children to continue and keep up with their language. We are asking for the same consideration and for CCMS to reinstate a Spanish Language class for incoming 6th graders.

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