MANSFIELD (CBSDFW.COM) – A Mansfield ISD program to teach Arabic language and culture in schools is on hold for now, and may not happen at all.
The school district wanted students at selected schools to take Arabic language and cultureclasses as part of a federally funded grant.
The Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) grant was awarded to Mansfield ISD last summer by the U.S. Department of Education.
As part of the five-year $1.3 million grant, Arabic classes would have been taught at Cross Timbers Intermediate School and other schools feeding into Summit High School.
Parents at Cross Timbers say they were caught off-guard by the program, and were surprised the district only told them about it in a meeting Monday night between parents and Mansfield ISD Superintendent Bob Morrison.
The Department of Education has identified Arabic as a ‘language of the future.’ But parent Joseph Balson was frustrated by the past. “Why are we just now finding out about it?” asked Balson. “It’s them (Mansfield ISD) applying for the grant, getting it approved and them now saying they’ll go back and change it only when they were caught trying to implement this plan without parents knowing about it.”
Trisha Savage thinks it will offer a well-rounded education. “I think its a great opportunity that will open doors. We need to think globally and act locally.”
Mansfield ISD says in addition to language, the grant provides culture, government, art, traditions and history as part of the curriculum.
Some parents had concerns over religion. “The school doesn’t teach Christianity, so I don’t want them teaching Islam,” said parent Baron Kane. During Monday’s meeting Morrison stressed the curriculum would not be about religion, but about Arabic language and culture, similar to the Spanish curriculum already in place in the district.
Kheirieh Hannun was born in the Middle East but raised in the U.S. She believes giving students the option to learn Arabic will give her son and others like him the option to learn more about their culture. “It was surprising, but I think it’s okay, and it will help come down on the stereotype.” Hannun says she is hopeful the class could broaden the minds of not only students, but also parents.
The FLAP grant was awarded to only five school districts across the country, including Mansfield. The district says the plan is on hold so it can hear from more parents. After that evaluation is over, the district says it is possible they might return the grant.source
Sarkozy: “Arabic Is the Language of the Future”
The French government is strongly advocating the teaching of Arabic language and civilization in French schools. Not surprising, considering the number of Arabs and Muslims in France, and the unctuous deference with which they are treated by officials, beginning notably with Nicolas Sarkozy, who cannot praise enough the splendor of Arabic contributions to the world.
The French National Assembly was the scene of a meeting earlier this month of the first Conference on the Teaching of Arabic Language and Culture, attended by a variety of interested parties. There was much wearisome blather about the need for “dialogue.”
In his message to the participants, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Arabic the “language of the future, of science and of modernity,” and expressed the hope that “more French people share in the language that expresses great civilizational and spiritual values.”
“We must invest in the Arabic language (because) to teach it symbolizes a moment of exchange, of openness and of tolerance, (and it) brings with it one of the oldest and most prestigious civilizations of the world. It is in France that we have the greatest number of persons of Arabic and Muslim origin. Islam is the second religion of France,” Sarkozy reminded his listeners.
He proceeded to enumerate the various “advances in terms of diversity,” the increase in Muslim sections of cemeteries, the training of imams and chaplains and the appointments of ministers of diverse backgrounds.
“France is a friend of Arabic countries. We are not seeking a clash between the East and West,” he affirmed, emphasizing the strong presence of Arab leaders at the founding summit of the Union for the Mediterranean, last July 13. “The Mediterranean is where our common hopes were founded. Our common sea is where the principal challenges come together: durable development, security, education and peace,” added the French president. source