I figured it was only a matter of time before someone would find fault with the innovative dual-language kindergarten program at Kyrene de los Niños. In the Sept. 10 edition of the AFN, David Folts raises his opposition to the program, suggesting it is some sort of indoctrination or method of intimidating other students. He implies that the program does not fit into "American elementary education." But not all Ahwatukee residents are so caught up in the Mexican immigration debate that they would lose sight of the benefit that such a program can offer our children. I am the parent of a kindergartner in a Kyrene school, though my child does not attend Niños. My husband and I learned of the dual-language kindergarten and considered taking advantage of the open enrollment policy of the Kyrene district so that our daughter could have the opportunity to learn Spanish in an immersion program. While we live too far away from Niños to make it work for our family, we believe the program is a superb idea. We hope such programs are offered for children at other schools in the area.
Many of our friends also expressed interest in the program, thinking it was a wonderful chance for their kids to begin learning a second language at a young age. Studies show that children are more able to learn a second language when they are very young, and that immersion programs are the best way to learn that second language.
Mr. Folts urges Niños parents to contact their school board if they are not happy with their kindergartners being instructed in Spanish for half the school day. While this may be speculation, I believe the majority of parents whose children are in the dual-language kindergarten actually chose to put their child into it. Like me, they recognized that being fluent in Spanish can result in their children being better prepared for college and better able to compete in global markets - as well as making them more marketable for higher-paying jobs right here in Arizona. This is not an ESL program. Rather, this is a program designed to add Spanish as the second language. The school is still following the state-mandated kindergarten curriculum. It is simply being taught in Spanish for half of the day.
In a time when Arizona's public education system is woefully under-funded and under-supported, the dual-language kindergarten is a glimmer of hope for progress in education, and investing in our children's futures. I only hope that Arizona residents won't let their views on immigration or other issues cloud their judgment when it comes to supporting programs such as the one at Niños.