Students with busy, college-preparatory schedules might get a break
this fall, allowing them to use their foreign language courses to
count for their vocational and career-technical class requirements.
Deputy Supt. Alexis Sheehy told the School Board Thursday that
many high-achieving students are having trouble fitting the 10 units
of practical arts into their schedules.
Classes like cooking, photography, computers or business are
required for graduation but many college-bound students have their
schedules full with extra advanced-placement classes or a fourth year
of a language, Sheehy said. They often have to take their practical
arts requirement through regional occupational programs or at
Thursday’s proposed graduation requirement revision would allow
students to apply an additional 20 units of a foreign language in
place of 10 units of practical arts.
Some board members were concerned the revision would infringe upon
the value of learning a skill useful in the real world.
" ... I don’t know if taking an extra year of Spanish is so
helpful as taking keyboarding,” board member Ted Bunch said at
But training in another language is a tool for the real world,
others argued. In today’s global economy, language can be a practical
asset, said Sue Boegh, director of educational support services.
“Languages are really a career skill and technical skill..,” Boegh
said. “As it is now, students are meeting this [practical arts
requirement] outside of school. This provides an optional method.”
Board member Larry Applebaum was hesitant to vote against a
proposal that would make students’ schedules more flexible. But he
later said considering foreign language a practical art was “a
stretch,” adding that he valued the importance of exposing students
to different workable skills.
“I come from the perspective that you need to have a real-world
connection between education in the classroom and how it’s applied in
real life,” Applebaum said. “By exposing kids to these kinds of
[practical arts] courses you’re giving them a taste of real world
experience more so than you’d get in the text book world of
fundamental instruction. People don’t realize what they’re good at
until they’ve got some exposure to it a little bit.”
At Thursday’s meeting, board members stated they preferred to have
an additional 10 units added to the language substitution, so as to
equal three years of foreign language instruction.
“The thought with that is that it takes you three years to engage
the skills in a foreign language to conduct an interview,” Boegh
Do you think foreign language classes should count as credit for
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