Which foreign languages should public high schools offer their students?
Are there some that might be more useful to learn than others? I think you could make a strong argument that Mandarin Chinese and Arabic belong in high schools and administrators would be doing students a favor by offering those courses.
At Daphne High School in Alabama, the sole French teacher retired last year. Instead of finding a replacement, the administrators went in a different direction: They decided to hire Sanaa El-Khattabi to teach an Arabic class:
Alan Lee, superintendent of the Baldwin County school system, said Daphne High, with an enrollment of about 1,400, includes students from 30 countries, and that offering Arabic is one of many ways that the school keeps an international focus and helps its graduates prepare for the global economy.
“If you look at the languages of the world, Arabic certainly would be one of the languages that I would want my own child to learn, because of the opportunities it would provide” in terms of careers and paths of study, Lee said.
That makes insanely good sense. Yet, instead of praising the decision, residents of the community and parents in the district are reminding us that ignorance is still an obstacle to obtaining a world-class education. They’re making an argument that teaching Arabic is somehow pro-Islam and anti-Christian:
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