Why do Public Schools Push Spanish?
By Maxwell Rankin
Most school boards insist on teaching children Spanish. Have you ever wondered, "Where are the high paying jobs in Mexico? Does success await our children in Spain?" Too many parents simply cave-in to school district agendas because they are not aware of their options. As a consequence, these docile parents let themselves get herded into valueless, time wasting programs.
Have you wondered what your state permits? By way of example, The California Education Code For Homeschooling 51220(c) outlines the adopted course study for a second language for grades seven through 12, stating: "Foreign language (or languages) begin no later than grade 7, are designed to develop a facility for understanding, speaking, reading, and writing the particular language."
In the case of California, even illegal aliens enter California schools exceeding this code's requirements. Here is where observant Jews may press a cultural advantage. Their children may already be well along in their Hebrew studies. If you recall, the code does not specify which language. So, you have considerable latitude when picking a language. Again I ask, "Why Spanish?"
This question becomes even more perplexing when you consider that most Americans are Christian. Many Christians would prefer that their children learn Hebrew-given an option. Many Jewish parents would prefer that their children learn Hebrew-given an option. Yet, do you know of one public school that offers Greek or Hebrew? Since Hebrew is not even offered in public schools, we will never know which classes would fill up first. Has your school district asked for your opinion? Don't hold your breath.
Unfortunately, some children end up in Spanish classes because their parents lack the tools to offer an alternative. There is an abundant supply of teaching tools for Spanish. But where can your children go to learn Hebrew?
Finally, school supply stores, book stores, internet and publishing companies are beginning to respond to the growing demand from parents who want to teach their children skills that mean something.
Educator, Micah Gould, claims any parent can homeschool Hebrew-even if they don't speak the language. "A typical one year curriculum, for Hebrew, can be divided into four components: One month can be devoted to memorizing the Hebrew alphabet, which includes learning the phonetic variations of each letter.
Two months can be devoted to memorizing the meaning of each letter. Every letter contains an entire story. When you know that story, it explains why a word is the sum total of each letter-story. Ultimately, Hebrew is logical.
Two months can be devoted to memorizing the specific words that are used in the book of Jonah-for instance. You may be surprised at how few words are used in Jonah. With Hebrew, context sets the definition. Again, Hebrew is logical.
At this point, the student is ready to begin actual reading. After several months of practice readings, your proud student can negotiate Hebrew beyond most state requirements." By way of exposure, the teacher might even learn something in this process.
The payoff for learning Hebrew is far-reaching. Jewish students will be playing a game they can easily win. If your child already meets your state's second language requirements, they are free to replace that time with meaningful classes. Even a photography class has more practical benefit than Spanish. Also, within the Jewish community, it is quite honorable to be able to read holy text in Hebrew. So, their progress will be met with community reinforcement. Temples are hungry for members who speak and read Hebrew.
This kind of success just cannot be compared to succeeding in Spanish, French, or German. These languages add nothing to Jewish growth. Public schools have tried to sneak junk education into our children's curriculum. Why do we tolerate this?
Rabbi Yosef Brod of West Hollywood, California states, "In our schools we go to Hebrew private schools. Nobody speaks Spanish. So, we don't think it's necessary. The Hebrew language is God's language."
Rabbi Brod does not disagree with Gould: "Jonah is a prophet. The study of Jonah is fine."
from the March 2006 Edition of the Jewish Magazine