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It’s not just Mandarin, all immersion programs have issues with being seen as elitist

May 17, 2019

Dark side of school immersion programs

From: The Standard-Examiner

For the last eight years, 11 elementary schools of 60 in Davis School District, four in Weber School District, and two in Ogden School District have incorporated dual immersion programs with Spanish, Chinese, or French. To many, it is one of the highlights of the school’s education system, with experts from across the country who come to visit and see how it is done.

However, lurking behind the immersion grandeur are a significant number of frustrated parents. Issues of segregation, non-immersion students being pushed aside, non-immersion classes with too many learning disabilities weighing down teachers, and immersion programs getting treated to extra grant money.

Segregation issues

The biggest concern for Kristie Kearns, a fourth-grade parent at Morgan Elementary in Kaysville, is the division between immersion and non-immersion students. “This is the closest thing to segregation I’ve seen since the ’50s because at a normal school, when you volunteer in class or go on field trips, you get to know other moms and their kids, but at an immersion school, we can only get to know half the school,” said Kearns, who says it also extends to the kids because the immersion students and the rest don’t interact with one another during lunch or recess.

Angela Wilde, another parent of a fourth-grader at Morgan Elementary, has similar sentiments. “That’s the thing I have the hardest thing with. You work so hard to get kids to get along, and then we label them as French kids and are treated better because we throw more money at them and this is where segregation issues come up. Why can’t we make it so everybody can benefit,” asked Wilde.

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