Why FLES?


Importance of Early Language Exposure-


Languages as a Core Component of Education for All Students


In the 21st century, language learning meets real world needs:


  • Rewards learners with a resume differentiator – the ability to communicate and collaborate in another language across cultures and time zones
  • Provides access to information and collaboration in any field - including science, technology, engineering, mathematics; business; and health care
  • Develops critical literacies by practicing skills to understand, exchange opinions, and present ideas
  • Develops flexible and adaptable thinking, plus an ability to function in new and unfamiliar situations
  • Prepares learners to think and interact in a global community
    (Source: www.actfl.org )

Also see the demonstrated benefits of language learning.



Community comment speakers from the Tuesday November 18, 2014 Arlington School Board meeting:


Janie Chuang, a parent of a first grader at Taylor Elementary School and a Professor of Law at American University, advocates that FLES be implemented at Taylor Elementary this coming school year. Janie appreciates that the School Board faces tough budget choices as to how to allocate the school district's limited resources, but urges the School Board to implement FLES at all of Arlington’s remaining non-FLES schools. She points out the numerous research studies on the demonstrated benefits of early elementary school aged language acquisition. Losing out on these benefits puts children at a distinct disadvantage in middle school and Janie urges the School Board to recognize the long term pedagogical consequences of providing key educational opportunities for some but not all. Janie concludes by urging the School Board to fully implement FLES at all remaining non-FLES schools in Arlington, including Taylor, Long Branch, Arlington Science Focus and Arlington Traditional elementary schools.



Community comment speakers from the Thursday May 08, 2014 Arlington School Board meeting:


Molly Watson, an Arlington parent and former President of the Oakridge Elementary School PTA, emphasizes the importance of having FLES in all Arlington County elementary schools. She mentions that the benefits of FLES go beyond world language proficiency. It also improves English language, Mathematics and Science skills along with closing the achievement gap for children from disadvantage backgrounds. Furthermore, learning a world language in elementary school improves world language proficiency in high school – a requirement for admissions to a competitive college. She complains that over five thousand Arlington elementary school children still attend schools where FLES is not offered. Lastly, Molly describes the impact of the lack of FLES on her family’s own neighborhood school - Oakridge Elementary. Molly’s son was in Oakridge Kindergarten in the year 2007 when parents discussed having FLES. Now seven years later, her son has already graduated from Oakridge Elementary while being completely denied the opportunity for FLES in elementary school - thus putting him at an academic disadvantage. She further explains that Oakridge Elementary has a higher number of low-income children than any other non-FLES school in Arlington. Molly emphasizes the importance of having FLES for all Arlington elementary children, so that every child in Arlington County receives an equal education.



Community comment speakers from the Thursday March 20, 2014 Arlington School Board meeting:


Heather Akins, in support of implementing FLES:



Sarah Yu, in support of implementing FLES:





Jennifer Black, in support of implementing FLES:





Alex Woods, in support of implementing FLES:





Matthew Comstock, in support of implementing FLES:





Michael Beer, in support of implementing FLES:





Nancy Van Doren, in support of implementing FLES:





Chris Puffer, in support of implementing FLES:





Rosemary Filou, in support of implementing FLES:





Community comment speakers from the Thursday February 6, 2014 Arlington School Board meeting:


Karen Voight, a mother of a 4th and 2nd grader at Nottingham Elementary School, promotes the implementation of FLES and the end of Early Release Wednesdays. Students who receive foreign language instruction in elementary school have more academic options as they progress through middle and high school, including more opportunities to work towards an advanced degree as well as benefiting from increased eligibility to the International Baccalaureate program at W-L High School. The disparity between FLES and non-FLES elementary schools is being recognized from a variety of sources around the county including recent real estate advertisements that specifically market and promote homes for sale that are zoned to elementary schools with FLES. In addition, the Sun Gazette newspaper recently listed community activism in support of FLES as one of the Top 10 Arlington new stories for all of 2013. Parents hope that FLES is implemented at all schools in order to support the APS objective of students graduating with proficiency in two languages.





Community comment speakers from the Thursday January 23, 2014 Arlington School Board meeting:


Rachel Waldstein Kagy, a parent of a first grader at Tuckahoe Elementary School, expressing her strong support for providing all elementary school students with proficiency based foreign language instruction and to have 5 full days of instruction per week. She also expressed her concern about how long this particular issue has been on the table here in Arlington. Rachel acknowledges that the School Board has been supportive of this and is trying to make this happen, but emphasizes the importance of this and requests that the School Board to please make this happen in the next school year.





Community comment speakers from the Thursday December 5, 2013 Arlington School Board meeting:


Einar Olsen, a parent of students at Tuckahoe Elementary and Thomas Jefferson middle school, requesting that FLES and full school days be provided to all students in Arlington county:





Community comment speakers from the Thursday November 7, 2013 Arlington School Board meeting:


Rachel Waldstein Kagy, a parent of a first grader at Tuckahoe Elementary School, thanks the members of the School Board for their efforts in a difficult budget climate to provide five full days of instructions and to bring foreign language instruction to all of Arlington’s elementary schools. She strongly urges that the best solution to the current inequity is not to reduce foreign language instruction in schools where it already exists, but to add County Board funding so that all schools can have foreign language instruction. She also explains the enormous benefits of learning a second language and the value of having a multi-lingual and multi-cultural workforce in this global economy and ever more interdependent world:





Michael Beer, a Key Elementary parent, thanks the School Board for implementing FLES in many schools and the profess desire to implement FLES at the remaining schools in Arlington. He requests that FLES be implemented at all Arlington Public Elementary Schools for the 2014-15 school year. Michael further encourages the School Board to be more visionary and bold and to map out the best options to implement universal dual language immersion education over the next 13 years. Michael urges that a great School Board can provide visionary leadership and that language immersion at the elementary school level will not only help Arlington’s children but set an example for the country and indeed the world:





Cynthia Core is a parent of both a McKinley Elementary student and a Swanson Middle School student who previously graduated from McKinley. Cynthia explains the importance of beginning foreign language instruction at as early of an age as possible in order to allow children to master the second language. Cynthia also shares the success of her middle school age daughter’s demonstrated fluency in a second language. This success was strictly the result of McKinley Elementary’s FLES program and Swanson Middle School’s Spanish language courses. Cynthia also notes how these advantages are very long-lasting and also extend beyond language by allowing her daughter many more options when scheduling her High School academic program. Cynthia further notes the many social, cognitive and cultural benefits of second language proficiency and requests that the School Board fully fund FLES and roll out FLES to as many schools as possible this coming school year:





Mark Black, a Nottingham parent, supports the board’s advancement of the FLES program in rolling it out to additional schools as quickly as possible. Mark benefited from the FLES program when he attended elementary school and also notes that that there is a large constituency in support of FLES. He also shared his willingness to work with folks to help move things forward. Mark further compliments that the School Board that the statistics and metrics for education and achievement shows that the School Board has done a great job and that foreign language instruction greatly enhances the education of all of our children. He notes that the involvement and support of the community can help expand FLES to all students as quickly as possible:





Jennifer Black, a mother of three children at Taylor Elementary expresses her concern of the inequity of missing FLES at Taylor Elementary. She explains that without the opportunity to be exposed to FLES, the students are not as well educated as many others in different schools with FLES. Exposure to foreign language at early age results in higher test scores, improved reading skills and a better understanding of English grammar itself. She further explains that Taylor students have early release every Wednesday which means months less academic instruction than some of their Arlington peers. Early release also creates a meaningful financial inequity for the parents. Jennifer respectfully requests that FLES be implemented at Taylor Elementary and that the School Board please inform her and her fellow concerned Taylor parents of any way in which they can assist with this goal:





Jonathan Goldner, a parent of two children at Tuckahoe Elementary, explains that the children at a young age have an innate ability to learn multiple languages and pick up new languages very easily. Jonathan is raising his children to be fluent in Portuguese and relays a story of how his 4 year old daughter has learned this second language much more quickly and easily than his own ability to learn the language as an adult. Jonathan stresses that learning a foreign language gives a window into another culture and helps to accomplish the goals of living in a multi-cultural society. Jonathan shares that he and his wife moved to Arlington because of the high quality of Arlington’s school system and requests the School Board implement FLES in all the elementary schools to gain from its true benefits:





Community comment speakers from the Thursday October 24, 2013 Arlington School Board meeting:


Sandra Wilkniss, a parent of two students at Tuckahoe Elementary School requests that the educational inequity be eliminated at Tuckahoe and the other elementary schools which do not yet have 5 full class days of instruction each week. She also reports on the US Department of Education’s strategic plan for international competitiveness which emphasizes that education must aim to develop a globally competent citizenry. Sandra also reports on the ample evidence that early language learning improves a broad range of cognitive abilities:





Einar Olsen, a parent of students at Tuckahoe Elementary and Thomas Jefferson middle school, reports on how Early Release Wednesdays presents logistical challenges and increased costs for working parents. Einar also reports on the injustice and substantial inequity in that students graduating from Tuckahoe and other schools with Early Release Wednesdays will have had a half year less of instructional time as their peers by the time they enter middle school:





Christine Schofield, a concerned parent talks about her son's first year at Nottingham Elementary in which he does not have the opportunity to learn a foreign language. Christine’s family moved to Arlington last year from out of state and this is the first year that FLES was not provided in their son’s school. Christine and her husband were disheartened to witness their son’s falling competency levels in spoken Spanish since leaving a school in which FLES was offered. Christine supports FLES being offered at Arlington’s elementary schools:





Community comment speakers from the Thursday September 26, 2013 Arlington School Board meeting:


Carey Eisenberg, Nottingham parent, speaking on the importance of FLES for the education of young children and requesting that FLES be provided to all students in Arlington county as soon as possible:





Kathy Pericak, mother of Tuckahoe Elementary School students, speaking on the importance of foreign language education and requesting that FLES be implemented at Tuckahoe in the next school year:





Alex Woods, a Tuckahoe parent, speaking on the importance of FLES for the education of young children and requesting that FLES be provided to Tuckahoe and all students in Arlington county:





Abby Raphael, Arlington School Board Chair, stating that the school board's goal is to have FLES at all of our elementary schools but also noting that that the pace of FLES roll-out given budget constraints will be a key topic of conversation:





Community comment speakers from the Thursday September 12, 2013 Arlington School Board meeting:


Hermon Black, Nottingham parent, requesting that FLES be implemented at Nottingham Elementary in the next school year:





Einar Olsen, Tuckahoe parent, requesting that FLES be implemented at Tuckahoe Elementary and also requesting the inequity in language education be corrected at both the elementary and middle school levels:





Heather Atkins, a Nottingham parent, reporting on a recent petition signed by 86 Nottingham parents, all requesting FLES be implemented at Nottingham Elementary in the next school year:





Karen Voight, a Nottingham parent, reporting that the implementation of FLES is fully supported by both the Nottingham Elementary school principal as well as parents. Karen requests that FLES be implemented at Nottingham Elementary in the next school year:





Richard Sheehy, a Nottingham parent, requesting that FLES be implemented at Nottingham Elementary in the next school year:





Tony Alexis, a Tuckahoe parent, thanking the School Board for implementing the after-school FLEX program and requesting the full implementation of FLES this coming school year:





Abby Raphael, Arlington School Board Chair, indicating that the school board recognizes the importance of foreign language instruction and that it is the school board's goal to have FLES at all of our elementary schools. Over the summer the school board directed the Superintendent to develop a plan for full implementation of FLES over time:





Community comment speakers from the Thursday April 18, 2013 Arlington School Board meeting:


Micah Reinharz, a Swanson Middle School student, shares his own experience of having to catch up with his peers in World Language after graduating from Tuckahoe Elementary – a school that does not currently have FLES. Micah requests that FLES be implemented at Tuckahoe Elementary, so that Tuckahoe students can have the same opportunity to succeed as other kids in Arlington:





Eli Reinharz (Micah’s Dad) mentions that providing FLES to all Arlington elementary schools shouldn’t be treated as an issue. There is a federal requirement that all schools should be provided with same sound curriculum. Language should be treated as a requirement just like Math and Science rather than treating it as an optional opportunity:





Michele Ledgerwood, co-sponsor of Tuckahoe Elementary's after-school French program and a mother of two students at Tuckahoe Elementary, shares that the lack of FLES puts us far behind 21st century educational conventions. Tuckahoe parents had been advocating FLES for many years and have conducted 3 surveys that showed 75% to 90% of families in support of FLES implementation:





Sandra Wilkniss, a parent of 2 children in Tuckahoe Elementary, reports many countries are modernizing and preparing for the future by emphasizing a multi-lingual approach and they are seizing on the best and brightest to come to their booming economies, but our kids are not yet ready. Sandra requests that the remainder of the Arlington be moved into the 21st century and that FLES funding be provided for all students:





Tony Alexis, a parent of two children in Tuckahoe Elementary, explains how the present situation is unfair to the children that don’t have exposure to FLES and this is a clear example of educational inequity. Learning a foreign language is beneficial to young children and a gateway to understanding other cultures and other people:





Michele Kayal, a mother of a 3rd grader at Tuckahoe Elementary, stresses that FLES should be brought to Tuckahoe Elementary as soon as possible and advocates for this critical life skill and equal treatment for all children. Michele mentions that by providing FLES to only some schools, APS deviates from its own stated goal of proficiency in a second language for each and every student:





Community comment speakers from the Thursday April 4, 2013 Arlington School Board meeting:


William Gil, Tuckahoe, emphasizing the importance of second-language learning and requesting that FLES be implemented at Tuckahoe in the next school year :





Rosemary Filou, mother of Tuckahoe Elementary School students, who raises the issue of equity of education since FLES is available at some Arlington County Schools but not others :





Elliott Stroud, McKinley parent, requesting that FLES be implemented at Tuckahoe Elementary in the next school year :





Estela Astacio, Tuckahoe parent, in support of implementing FLES at Tuckahoe :





Kelly Alexis, Tuckahoe parent, in support of implementing FLES at Tuckahoe :





Christine Puffer, Tuckahoe parent, in support of implementing FLES at Tuckahoe and expressing concern about a proposed reduction in special education staff at Tuckahoe :





Nancy Chavez, bilingual mother of 3 whose middle school daughter felt discouraged moving from Tuckahoe Elementary School where no FLES program exists to Swanson Middle School :





Community comment speakers from the Saturday November 19, 2013 Arlington Country Board meeting:


Jennifer Bauer, in favor of increased funding for Arlington's schools:





Elliott Stroud, in favor of increased funding for Arlington's schools:





Heather Akins, in favor of increased funding for Arlington's schools:





Michael Beer, in favor of increased funding for Arlington's schools:





Community comment speakers from the Saturday November 16, 2013 Arlington Country Board meeting:


Tony Alexis, a parent of two Arlington elementary students, thanked all of the Country Board members for their service to Arlington County. Tony also asked for the County Board’s help to remedy an inequity affecting over 4,700 children as the County Board plans and sets its long-term priorities. These Arlington children miss almost half a school year of instructional time by the time they enter middle school simply because of the school that they attend. These children also miss out on foreign language education in their core instruction for seven grades. Tony asked that the County Board work with the School Board and to fund equal education time for all 22 elementary schools, ending early release Wednesdays:





County Board Chair Walter Tejada noted that the County Board members had recently had the occasion to meet with many of the parents advocating for equal instructional time and foreign language instruction for all elementary students. Mr. Tejada stated that the County Board will certainly continue to work in collaboration with their colleagues on the School Board and that he has personally been relaying these concerns to the School Board:





County Board member Libby Garvey thanked the parents for coming this morning. She mentioned that the County Board would be doing the budget direction soon and that she is hopeful that they will be able to give budget direction that will allow for flexibility to meet the schools’ need to fund their enrollment growth as well as to look at the inequities noted here this morning:





Community comment speakers from the Saturday October 19, 2013 Arlington Country Board meeting:


Television news coverage by Kristen Holmes of News Channel 8 (WJLA). Kristen Holmes reports on the October 19th Arlington County Board meeting. Rosemary Filou and other Arlington parents asked that all elementary school students be provided 5 full class days of instruction. Parents also asked the County Board to provide additional funding to the Schools in order to be fair to all of Arlington’s elementary students:

Source:WJLA



Rosemary Filou, a mother of two Arlington elementary students, speaks to the Country Board. Rosemary asks for increased funding to the schools to provide equal instructional time for all students. She reports that thousands of Arlington elementary students are missing out on proficiency based foreign language instruction in elementary school and then they are again further denied foreign language education in 6th grade in middle school because FLES was not offered in their elementary school. Rosemary encouraged the country board to invest part of the county budget surplus in our schools:





Walter Tejada expressed surprise to learn that some students could not study a foreign language until the 7th grade and noted that he would raise these issues with the School Board. Mr. Tejada thanked the speaker for raising these issues and indicated they would do their best to continue to provide the resources the schools need:





Libby Garvey thanked the parents for coming and bringing this to their attention and also noted that the County Board does not tell the School Board what to do. Ms. Garvey also noted that she was pleased that this was brought to our attention and that this was the right time to do it:





Mary Hynes noted that typically budget requests are not entertained outside of the budget season and asked parents to remember when the appropriate time is for public comment on budget matters. Ms. Hynes also noted that since 1995 the County Board has been very, very generous in terms of cost per pupil. Ms. Hynes concluded by encouraging parents to return to the appropriate board for their advocacy: