Would You Want Your Child to Be Required to Learn Arabic in School?

Filed under: Education: Big Kids, Education: Tweens, Education: Teens

Arabic

Two Texas schools have scrapped their plans for mandatory Arabic classes. Credit: Joseph Barrak, AFP / Getty Images

Studying a foreign language is a good thing. As far as I know, students are required to take at least a couple of years of a language in either middle school or high school. But to the best of my knowledge, students are usually offered a choice.

Two schools in Texas were about to make classes in Arabic language and culture mandatory, according to a report from CBS News in Dallas, but the program is on hold after protests from parents. Parents' concerns ranged from anger over not being informed of the classes to worries about the curriculum including lessons on religion.

According to published reports, the schools were offering the classes because of a federal grant. The strange thing, for me, is the "mandatory" part. Putting aside the fact that the mere mention of the word "Arabic" can inflame passions in our highly-charged political environment, I would prefer that my kids have the option of choosing which language they want to learn. I think I would feel the same way if the schools decided to require the kids to take Chinese. Language requirement, yes. One specific language requirement, no.

Back to the issue at hand -- these two schools were going to have mandatory classes in Arabic, but for now, they're not. The classes would be paid for by a federal grant. The local Department of Education said that they considered Arabic to be a "language of the future," which appears to be the reasoning behind the idea of making the courses mandatory. And sure, learning languages and cultures is important. But maybe give the kids a choice? Would you want your child to be required to learn Arabic at school?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.