Change provides room for improvement, growth, and advancement. However, the negative consequences of change can impact anyone and everyone. Preston High School is known for making changes every year in an attempt to improve their schedules and programs. Some changes in the school are addressed better––like the lunch menu––while others aren’t. Recently, changes in the L.O.T.E Department have created a few conflicts for both students and teachers. While the attempt was for the greater good, one cannot ignore the struggles that have occurred.
Changes involving the programs in the L.O.T.E Department have caused significant problems for the Spanish students and teachers. Heritage classes were terminated in favor of placing Spanish-speaking students in more advanced Spanish courses. For example, students who excel in Spanish I are automatically placed in a higher course, such as Spanish III. AP Spanish Courses were terminated as well, in order to implement dual enrollment courses in the future.
With heritage courses discarded, Spanish-speaking students are not given the tools to polish their own knowledge of the language which would allow them to build a bridge between the proper language and what they know. Heritage classes challenge Spanish-speaking students by allowing them to perfect their reading and grammar skills. It fast-tracked these students into AP courses, giving them the opportunity to earn college credit. Currently, students who excel in Spanish I are forced into Spanish III, depriving them of important vocabulary and grammar lessons. These students are left confused over their current lessons and aren’t given enough time to recognize the difficulties of their class before the transfer period is over.
These changes hinder students’ learning. For them, some classes are too fast-paced while others are too slow. Teachers recognize the hardships their students face by being denied the perfect learning environment to truly learn the language.
In response to concerns of students and teachers, the L.O.T.E Chairperson, Ms. Demaio, has given the following statement:
“This year, we have made changes to the Spanish language program in an effort to help more students studying Spanish to obtain more affordable, easily transferable college credits. The Spanish program is now affiliated, as the Italian program already has been for the past four years, with the University at Albany. To date, seventy-nine students who completed Italian IV and V obtained eight college credits through this program.
The University at Albany provides students with excellent college level classes at very affordable prices. The cost for each class is only $160.00. If a student is eligible for free or reduced lunch, the class becomes only $80.00. The requirement to take these classes is a minimum of an 85% cumulative G. P. A.
Last Friday, January 10th, students began registering for A SPN 200 - Spanish IV. More than 85% of the students in A SPN 200 are taking this class for four college credits. Next year, we are collaborating with the University at Albany to offer A SPN 105 for Native Spanish speakers for a possible three college credits, in addition to A SPN 200 for non-native Spanish speakers for four college credits.
It is our vision to eventually offer A SPN 201 (Spanish V) as well for an additional four college credits for non-native Spanish speakers. It is also our vision to offer fourteen college language credits to native Spanish speakers taking Italian language classes at Preston. Next year, ten native Spanish speaking students studying Italian will be registered to take A SPN 105 - Spanish IV (native speakers) for three college credits and A ITA 103 and A ITA 104 (Italian IV and V) for eight college credits. In September, 2020, we hope to offer A ITA 206 (Italian 6) for an additional three college credits. In June 2021, we hope to have our first graduate of the Native Spanish speaker program in Italian, Linda Melendez, who will be earning a combined total of fourteen college credits in Italian and in Spanish.”
Ms. Demaio states how these new dual enrollment classes will give students an opportunity to gain college credits or to combine Spanish and Italian classes. But it cannot be ignored that some may view these dual enrollment classes as costly for students or limit their choices to how they want to receive college credit. The removal of some important classes, such as AP Spanish, can hinder a student’s education rather than expand it.
While the change may have attempted to improve the curriculum, no one should ignore its consequences. Students aren’t properly prepared to succeed and teachers are struggling with their students not understanding lessons and losing interest in what’s being taught. Some things are better left unchanged. Bringing back heritage and AP courses can improve this situation. Speaking to administration or with the student council will bring this issue to light, and hopefully, Preston will understand the students’ plight.
Writer: Zoe Zapata and sidekick
Changes in L.O.T.E Department