Meeting halfway a good lesson in communication


Posted: Friday, April 07, 2006

Communication is an essential part of life. To be able to say what it is we need and what we want to others in a language they understand is certainly better than waving our arms about in frustration and getting nowhere.

Sharing our culture in our native language is equally important.

That’s why we understand the reaction from those in peninsula villages who are expressing their disappointment with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District for not being able to maintain a state law requiring the right certification for teachers instructing the Russian language.

The classes at Kachemak Selo are expected to be cut from 60 minutes in length to 30 minutes.

Many have spoken against the proposed changes, but there has been an alternative offered as a solution.

The district’s plan is to permit 30 minutes of Russian instruction, with the tutors helping students with academic subjects the rest of the day.

Not only is this a solution, but a successful one.

The program has been refined over the last five years at Voznesenka with exceptional results, according to district Assistant Superintendent Sam Stewart.

“The state actually called us and asked to have them present at the No Child Left Behind conference in Anchorage earlier this year because of their success,” Stewart said.

Stewart said the district is able to make exceptions regarding the language certification law if the tutor or aide works in small groups under the direction of a certified teacher.

It would be great if the district could afford to certify enough teachers to keep the classes in place, but the reality is the district is facing some difficult decisions.

Is sacrificing 30 minutes of language worth the cost of sacrificing teachers?

It’s not possible to make these types of decisions without impacting someone. The district has a tough road before them as far as what should stay, what should go and what should change.

For the majority, doesn’t it make more sense to make changes such as these as opposed to cutting teachers?

No one wants to see our schools lose any form of education, especially that which expands cultural boundaries and continues to link our past to the future. However, few of us have learned about our heritage from school. It comes from family, from traditions that are passed on and from seeking information on our own.

Learning language should be an option, and the district should be given credit for finding a solution that still enables the students to learn what they are passionate about without having to go without it entirely.

If there’s a chance to meet in the middle of the road, why wouldn’t we take it?

We should. It’s not often that solutions work out this way, and what a good example to set for our students — a successful lesson on what happens when you communicate.

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