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Lake Forest, Ill. takes Mandarin immersion program off the table for kindergarten 2014

February 28, 2014

This is the district where Mandarin immersion has been  popular among parents, enough that half of the students in Cherokee Elementary are in the program. However  parents who did not chose the program  called it elitist and unfair.

Clearly they won the day. The district announced on Feb. 27th that there will be no incoming kindergarten Mandarin immersion class at Cherokee Elementary School. Instead all students will get the traditional kindergarten program in English.

The district hopes to “improve the program and look at the best immersion and language instruction options for our community and then reopen registration in 2015-2016,” according to the post below.

Students already in the immersion program will be allowed to continue through the end of fifth grade. What the district will offer them at that point is unclear.

You can read more about the decision here.

The level of vitriol in this district around immersion has been remarkable.

Here’s one example:

“Laura questions, does integrating the immersion program with children not in the immersion program meet these needs? Laura has personally observed her own children become victims to an inferior educational experience where their needs are not being met due to the overwhelming demands of the Mandarin Program at Cherokee. Instead, it seems that the children are being divided by the program. An elitist milieu has been created, an us versus them mentality. The school should feel united and school proud. This program is breeding contempt and a sense of inequality, worse yet the children’s basic needs are failing to be met.”

You can read more of this perspective here.

My feeling has always been that no district should force students to enter into an immersion program. But allowing families to chose it hardly seems elitist. Not everyone wants immersion. Is wanting it then elitist in and of itself?

In Lake Forest, Illinois it appears to be.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jennifer Mulloy permalink
    February 28, 2014 5:50 pm

    There have been some miscommunications between the Lake Forest community and the administration. I spoke with Superintendent Simeck today, the program is not ending, the district and BOE took the kindergarten option off the table for 2014-2015 due to low enrollment across the district in all programs. The hope is to improve the program and look at the best immersion and language instruction options for our community and then reopen registration in 2015-2016.

  2. February 28, 2014 5:52 pm

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. elizabethweise permalink*
    March 1, 2014 2:59 pm

    Wow. Illinois has multiple public Spanish immersion programs. It is interesting that there is such anger and distain for Chinese, and yet not for Spanish.

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