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Swap could help students

Rosette Gonzales

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.

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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

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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

community colleges.

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.

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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

Thursday’s meeting.

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.

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“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

said.

QUESTION

Do you think foreign language classes should count as credit for

required vocational courses? E-mail your responses to burbankleader

@latimes.com; mail them to the Burbank Leader, 111 W. Wilson Ave.,

Glendale, CA 91203. Please spell your name and include your address

and phone number for verification purposes only.


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