Dozens of Corvallis High School students walked out of afternoon classes on Thursday, June 14 in protest of changes being made to the district’s dual language immersion program. Kindergarteners from both native Spanish-speaking and English-speaking families share a curriculum designed to promote fluency in both languages by the time they graduate high school.
80 students marched around the school building and then took up the sidewalk in front of the school, protesting the low credit values of dual immersion courses, the school district’s decision to place only some of these students into AP Spanish in their freshman year, and the lack of a concrete curriculum for them beyond an AP class.
Camilla Robertson, a sophomore at CHS, laid out the students’ rationale to reporters.
Courses on the history of Spanish-speaking countries only affords half of one credit in both the social studies and fine arts/language categories. Robertson points out that the school “disrespects” a history which spans three continents by placing a lower value on it than on the European-centered history courses traditionally taught in high school.
The decision to advance some dual immersion students into AP Spanish as soon as they reach high school, the students say, separates a group of students who have been together since kindergarten, what one protesting CHS student protester Mateo McCann called “our community.” According to reporting, school administrators have been unclear about what kind of curriculum dual immersion students will be offered after completing AP Spanish as freshmen.
CHS assistant principal Paul Navarra spoke to reporters on Friday morning after the protest. He claimed to be meeting with the organizers of the protest that afternoon, but there has been no further reporting about that meeting.
Navarra offered counterarguments to the students’ points, citing state restrictions on what material can be classified as a full social studies course, and that the inclusion of dual immersion freshmen into AP Spanish was “part of an effort to improve the dual immersion program…and increase the representation of students from underrepresented demographics in all AP classes.”
“Students who start in AP Spanish will continue to have dual immersion classes through high school,” Navarra said in response to worries about a lack of curriculum.
Navarra emphasized he was excited by and welcomed students’ ideas for the program.
By Ian MacRonald