by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN News
LOS ANGELES — English, Spanish, and French are basic language classes typically usually offered in public high schools.
But now, through a recent ethnic studies mandate, as well a state law that expands language classes — the nation’s second largest school district is looking to add more languages to its curriculum, including Tagalog.
“We are expanding the work right now to really bring in the full scope of history for all of our immigrant communities in Los Angeles,” said Steve Zimmer, President of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board. “So the study of Pilipino and Tagalog language, but also history and culture and art; that’s what we’re looking to bring into the schools.”
Zimmer says the classes can be implemented later this year on a pilot basis, after the school district secures proper funding.
“I’d like the programs to start next fall. We do have teachers who have A-level fluency in Pilipino or Tagalog, and starting a class at the middle or high school level is not a difficult thing to do as a language enrichment program,” he said. “Beginning a dual-lingual immersion program would not be this year, but the following year.”
It’s a welcomed initiative from members of the Filipino community, who say some schools have independently run their own Filipino curriculum in the past.
“I really felt there was such a need, and with such a big [Filipino American] population in the city of LA and LA county-wide, that needs to be implemented,” says community leader Grace Barrios. “Because these roadblocks have been removed, so we need to advocate.”
Barrios will be trying to round up members of the Filipino community, to lobby the major school district to begin Filipino language programs as soon as this year.