Dual-immersion in the neighborhood
December 13, 2011
Several parents and community members are concerned about McPolin Elementary School’s dual-immersion program, which is set to be implemented next year. According to Park City School District Director of Curriculum Lori Gardner, the question is: in what capacity will the program be implemented.
McPolin Elementary School Principal Bob Edmiston will hold a meeting on Thursday, Dec. 15, at 5:30 p.m. at MPES, for parents interested in learning more about the school’s dual-immersion options. Edmiston will present three models, according to Gardner, who said the school has a few different options to consider because of its unique demographic.
"Bob will be presenting three options. One is the one-class model, which would involve about 25 first-grade students, half would be native Spanish speakers and half would be non-native Spanish speakers," Gardner said. "The second would be the 50/50 model, which are the models we have at the other schools. This would involve about 50 to 55 students."
Another option would be the Whole School Model, which would begin with first-graders in 2012-2013, and expand a grade level each year. According to McPolin parents Mimi Denton, Ericha Oberg and Jen Kelly, this model raises issues for the people living within the boundaries of McPolin who don’t want their children enrolled in the dual-immersion program.
Denton said her biggest concern is that people who want to move into the area won’t be able to attend the neighborhood school because their students wouldn’t be up to speed in the dual-immersion program.
In a letter to parents and community members, which is now being used as a petition against the Whole School Model, the women expressed their concerns about how the model would negatively affect the surrounding community, families thinking about buying property in that area and McPolin’s teachers. The petition states:
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"This program would eventually rob diversity from the neighborhoods surrounding McPolin. Young, new families who plan on moving into this area may now be dismayed by the district decision and plan on purchasing their home elsewhere."
Kelly said the reason they like McPolin is because of the teachers. implementing this model the current teachers would eventually be phased out, according to Kelly, who also said that instead of McPolin growing as a school, it might shrink if students are bussed to other schools.
The letter also stated concerns about creating a sense of community within McPolin, which also acts as a social network for parents and students.
"Most people agree that the ability to enroll children at their neighborhood school, which is located closest to their home, is logical for many reasons and is fundamental to our public school system and quality of life. Families often purchase, or rent a home in a specific neighborhood with the assumption that their children will be attending that school, thereby getting to know the other neighborhood children, play sports with them and as a result, create a tight, supportive social network."
Oberg said that dual-immersion should be an opt-in program because dual-immersion is not for every student.
"Is it a ‘right’ or a ‘privilege,’ is it a ‘mandate’ or an ‘elective?’ Math is certainly a mandate at the State and National level; We expect our kids to be numerate. But teaching math in Mandarin, French or Spanish? That is not mandated, but if a district so chooses to offer, can be an elective for those that are interested. And electives are not compulsory," Oberg wrote in an email to The Park Record.