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Old 11-10-2005, 02:15 PM
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Default Students may be required to take Spanish


Students may be required to take Spanish
David Karsh
Last updated on: 11/10/2005 2:21:49 PM

WMP 9 or higher required
LEE COUNTY— A proposal in Tallahassee is causing a stir in schools in Southwest Florida. The state's top democrat is supporting a plan to make Spanish classes mandatory for all students in kindergarten through second grade, just like English or Math.

The youngest students in Southwest Florida's public school system could soon be saying hola to a new language. A proposed law would make Spanish mandatory for students in kindergarten through second grade.

"I frankly believe, the earlier you teach someone, the better it is," said George Muentes, an English as a second language teacher.

The law would make Spanish a core class like math and science. It would also force school officials to shuffle an already crowded schedule."

The length of the school day won't change, but the Spanish would have to be squeezed in somewhere, which means a few popular classes may have to be cut to make room.

"The options would be the specials, the arts, music and PE. But here in Charlotte County those are very important to us," said Mike Riley of the Charlotte County school district.

If the bill passes, it won't take effect till 2007. But the thought of mandatory Spanish classes is already a controversial subject with some parents.

"I've heard it the other way that English was the language here and that's the way it's going to be. On the other hand, there is a lot of Spanish people here. No, it doesn't surprise me. I just don't like it," said parent Ed Barrick.

Senate Bill 522 is making its way through the legislature. But one top decision maker says creating the new law is unnecessary.

"It's a good idea to offer Spanish. I don't know that we need to mandate it, frankly," said Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist.

The idea may be controversial, but it may not be too long before bi-lingual books become standard for local students.

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