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Language Flagship cuts all K-12 funding

January 13, 2020

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The Language Flagship is a national program that works to design, support and implement advanced language education. It works with colleges to create advanced language treating and learning opportunities in critical languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, and Turkish.

The Flagship network is made up of 31 Flagship programs at 21 institutions of higher education, and 10 Overseas Flagship Centers.

You can find a list of the Chinese flagship programs at 12 U.S. universities here.

The Flagship has always been important for Chinese immersion programs, giving out multiple grants that supported the growth and expansion of K – 12 programs around the country.

But no more. In a letter to parents in the Portland (Oregon) Public Schools Mandarin immersion program, coordinator Michael Bacon told parents that the Language Flagship is ending its support of K – 12 programs. Portland’s grant was the last, apparently.

The one good piece of news in this is that many Mandarin immersion programs had cut ties with their local Confucius Institute and its Confucius Classrooms program which supported Chinese teachers, at the directive of a federal law that was passed that restricted Flagship-funded programs from affiliating with the Confucius Institutes. Read more about that here. It could mean that programs can resume those affiliations.

Michael Bacon’s letter:

Dec 10, 2019

A message from Portland Public Schools

Dear Mandarin Immersion Families,

I am writing to give you an important update on the Chinese Flagship grant funding. This school year (19-20) is the last year of our current 4 year grant award. We are all set and nothing is changing in regards to the supports and commitments we have made to our programs and schools this year.

We learned this summer, however, that the National Security Education Program and the Language Flagship have made the decision to discontinue K-12 funding starting in 20-21 and dedicate all of their resources to the university programs that have been their primary function since the beginning.

PPS was the first K-12 system to receive Flagship funding in the US and is the only one receiving funding currently. 3 years ago the Language Flagship cut all other K-12 funding except for PPS. I attribute our 14-year successful ride with the Flagship to the great collaboration we had with our partners at UO and the hard work and dedication of many PPS teachers, principals, staff and of course students and parents striving to improve and make our programs work effectively here in PPS. We established a learning model to use data to drive our work and turned challenges into opportunities to innovate. When we first received the Flagship grant we were one of only 3 Mandarin immersion programs in public schools in the US. There are now over 270, many of which learned from our successes and challenges that we disseminated in publications, visitations, and presentations nationally over these many years. We have made an impact! We are incredibly grateful for the support and opportunity Flagship provided us.

I want to assure you that PPS will continue to support our Mandarin immersion programs as we do all of our DLI programs. We have been careful to use the grant funds to supplement and innovate. We have been careful to not predicate core operations of our programs on this tenuous funding knowing that someday it would come to an end. Mandarin immersion will continue to strengthen and grow in PPS well beyond the Flagship grant.

Thanks for your understanding, support and hard work as we make this final year of the Flagship grant the best one yet.

Michael Bacon

Director of Dual Language Immersion

Portland Public Schools


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