Might the Arlington school system go looking outside the borders of the U.S. for its next crop of teachers?
That’s a possibility, depending on the future of a proposal to reimagine foreign-language-immersion programs for county elementary-schoolers.
Tucked away in a staff report is a proposal that the school system research the issue of obtaining visas for Spanish-speakers from outside the country, who could be brought in to instruct classes.
The concept is among ideas to be discussed Jan. 6, as School Board members hold their first meeting of the new year.
For months, a task force has considered changes to Arlington’s dual-language (English-Spanish) elementary-school programs in two elementary schools. Students in the program include both those with English as their first language, and those where Spanish is the predominant language at home.
One proposal suggests a larger percentage of Spanish instruction (up to 80 percent of all class time) in the earliest grades, gravitating toward a 50/50 split by the time students reach fifth grade. Currently, the program features a largely consistent 50/50 split throughout the grade levels.
The proposal is merely up for discussion; any decisions will be taken down the road.
The flip of the calendar from 2021 to 2022 does bring a new arrival to the five-member School Board. Mary Kadera in November was elected to fill the seat being vacated by Monique O’Grady. Both are Democrats, as are the four remaining incumbents.
Unlike the Arlington County Board, where leadership rotates on a calendar-year basis, the chair of the School Board usually occupies the post on a July-to-June basis, giving Barbara Kanninen six more months at the helm.
Kanninen is the board’s senior member, followed by Reid Goldstein. The three other board members (Kadera, Cristina Diaz-Torres and David Priddy) have a year or less tenure on the body.