Speak Out

An timeline following the reinstatement of Japanese classes into the CPS curriculum.

Mikayla Miller

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A process three years in the making, Japanese has made its comeback to CPS high schools. In 2014, CPS executives made the decision to start phasing out German, Japanese, and Latin from Junior High School’s. After German and Japanese were phased out in the Junior high level, they still remained in the Senior High School level, and shortly after, the high school’s were approved for funding to buy new textbooks for the classes.

“I was very upset because they phased a language out before when I was in middle school. I was taking German and they just dropped it. I love Japanese and I don’t want it to be dropped too” Sophomore Megan Clifford said. “My mom was upset as well but we couldn’t do much about it besides go to the board meetings and show our support.”

On April 13th, 2017, Japanese teachers were informed that their programs would start to be phased out beginning with level one for the ‘17~’18 school year because of lower enrollment and a desire to be efficient.

“I was told for the first time on April 13th of this past year that my program would start to be phased out at the beginning of the upcoming school year,” Japanese teacher Shawn Beatty stated. “So that was frustrating cause we were told out of the blue by my principal from RockBridge.”

Many students and parents showed up to the board meeting and talked to support the program.

“Parent and community support was great, because the bomb was dropped on us and my students had no warning. “ Beatty stated.

In 2016 teachers voted on the Levy question. “Shall The School District of Columbia, Boone County, Missouri, be authorized to increase the operating tax levy by sixty-five cents ($0.65) per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation for general school operating purposes, including maintaining current programs, providing support for increasing student enrollment and assisting in recruiting high-quality faculty?”

For Beatty, whose program would be one of those maintained through this tax, voting yes was the obvious choice.

“Students really do have more diversity when they take Japanese, unlike every other kid in America who finished Spanish with a C. Maintaining the course gives them a chance to meet new people and have fun in their classes, so any funding that we could get, we took.” Beatty commented. “Students who take Japanese are committed to the language, it’s not just another class for them.” Clifford replied.

In January 2017, Japanese 1 was accepted as an online course for the upcoming fall semester. Shawn Beatty, the Japanese ⅔ teacher at Hickman, spent two evenings at BHS and RBHS promoting Japanese to potential students. After much debate and persuading, in February/March 2017, Japanese 1 was offered as an online class.

“The enrollment rates are really hit and miss. We lost a teacher at Hickman.” Beatty said.

The fear of low enrollment rates and lack of interest in students was widely anticipated with only 15-20 students signed up.

“I’m optimistic about this class and the future,” Beatty said. “Students love to have teachers that love what they do, and I love teaching Japanese. I’m confident that enrollment rates will boost and that I’ll be able to continue to do what I love.”