Sehej Bajwa, Anka Chiorini, and Jasmine Ho, ’23
To whom it may concern,
First of all, we’d like to thank you for taking time out of your day to read our concerns. We are 9th grade students currently enrolled in Honors Chinese. We have all been a part of the Chinese program for the past four years and we had some concerns with the proposed cutting of the program. Chinese has been an integral part of the JD community for many years, setting us apart from other CNY schools that do not provide students an opportunity to learn this language. Furthermore, Chinese is the most spoken language in the world and cutting it from our course list doesn’t seem reasonable.
We signed up for Chinese because we wanted to challenge ourselves while learning something new and interesting. Cutting Chinese deprives us and future students the opportunity to learn a very practical language. In the past, students have been inducted into the National Chinese Honor Society and even gotten scholarships to study abroad in China. Recently, one of us had an opportunity to apply the skills we’ve learned in Chinese to help another person find their family. An elderly woman, who spoke only Chinese approached one of us and asked for assistance in finding her family. Thanks to what we have learned through the Chinese curriculum, the elderly woman was able to find her family with the help of a JD student. Is it not the goal of JD to help students apply what they’ve learned in school to their community?
In addition to the practical uses of the language, current Chinese students will be affected in countless ways if this program is destroyed. For example, it was stated in the school board meeting that high school students would continue learning Chinese through BOCES. However, students would not have access to an adult who can help them. Without a teacher who knows Chinese present, our grades will potentially drop significantly. In this difficult time, you can certainly understand the frustrations that come with online learning and our desire to have an in-person class. Not only high schoolers, but middle schoolers will be affected as well. Sixth and seventh grade students currently taking Chinese will be forced to switch to another language one to two years later than the rest of their class. They will have an extremely hard time catching up to their classmates and will probably never have the opportunity to take an honors LOTE (Language Other Than English) class. Cutting Chinese would not be in the best interest of the current students’ success and emotional well being.
We understand that enrollment numbers have been down for the past 4 years, but you can hardly call that a trend. In those 4 years, there was a switch in teachers which could have severely affected the enrollment. Currently, there are 38 students enrolled in Chinese. Last season, 38 people played high school level football, which is considered “ebbing and flowing.” Couldn’t you say the same for Chinese? Have you considered that the Chinese enrollment numbers are “ebbing and flowing” as well? Why not consider cutting football, a sport that has been proven to cause brain damage, instead of an academic pursuit? Demolishing the Chinese program will not save that much money, the estimate given at the meeting was $75,000, which is nothing compared to the cost of a new dump truck or snow plows. Shouldn’t the budget be planned with students in mind?
Keeping the Chinese program would not only benefit the students’ education, but also eliminate the need to fire a good teacher, who cares about her students. She puts so much time and energy into making sure we are successful, often spending at least an extra hour after class with her Advanced Placement students to provide the extra help they need. In seventh grade, a student who had just moved from China and didn’t know much English joined our JD community. He had a hard time interacting with other students and was often alone. Fu-Mei Tung looked out for him and made sure he felt welcome in our classroom. She was able to communicate with him and make him feel more comfortable in his new environment. Ms. Tung always goes the extra mile to help her students. She is a great teacher and a caring person and shouldn’t be a casualty of the new budget.
We believe this new budget is unfair and unacceptable. We were not notified of the proposed cuts until an hour before the meeting and, as students, we have the right to know whether our class is being cut and should have been informed sooner because many people couldn’t make it to the meeting to express their opinions due to the last minute notifications about the meeting. The new budget compromises our right to learn and the quality of our education. We signed up assuming we would be offered a continuous program that would last throughout our schooling at JD, how can you take away a program that we are still in the process of completing? Many of us were going to continue to take Chinese throughout high school, but now we have been robbed of that option. Because of the Chinese program, JD has become a more diverse and interesting community. Students have been given opportunities they may not have otherwise had, such as scholarships to study abroad. If Chinese is going to be cut, wouldn’t it make more sense to phase it out? Running the program for another year would allow us to reach Checkpoint B and the class below us to begin a new language in high school, where beginner language classes are already offered. Do you really want to harm students in major ways for a new budget?