October 4, 2007
I am writing in response to the recent letters to the editor regarding the Spanish section in the Sierra Sun. While I can appreciate the fear these authors have regarding a polyglot culture, ironically it is that fear of encountering a language one doesn’t understand that many of our Latino neighbors face everyday. While in the ideal world, complete immersion in English would accelerate comprehension, this ‘tough love’ approach is not practical ” people must navigate their day-to-day lives.
In many ways, this is analogous to addressing the needs of our English Language Learners in our schools, where they must learn content simultaneously with language. Studies have shown that this is best accomplished by a graduated approach where some of the more difficult concepts are initially presented in a child’s native language.
Although my mother was fluent in Italian, we regrettably only spoke English in our household while growing up (with a thick Sopranos-esque New Jersey accent no less!), and while I took numerous foreign language courses in high school and college, I never really learned a second language. This was a deficiency I promised myself I would not pass onto my children, who at 3 and 5 years old already know Norwegian and are learning Spanish. Fluency in multiple languages and respect for other cultures will become increasingly important as technology makes our world a much smaller place.
To me, a true “melting pot” is not when one set of ideas dominates all others, but rather when we all appreciate and learn from one another. Is it critically important to be fluent in English? Of course it is. English is ” and will remain ” the dominant language in our society. But it is also critically important that all our neighbors, whether Anglo or Latino, be informed about the issues we face everyday. And if by printing material in Spanish means we can help accomplish this, so much the better.
As a lifetime resident, North Tahoe High School alumnus, football team parent, and a local taxpayer, I am extremely disturbed by the actions of John Britto (Director of Facilities) and the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District board. This publicly elected board and Mr. Britto (a public employee) decided to start construction on the NTHS football field and bleachers approximately one week before the homecoming football game.
It appears that the teams and fans will be attending this event in the midst of a construction zone. I truly question the lack of planning and thinking that was behind this project. NTHS has been under construction for at least two years. They have had the entire summer to do this project. The football season lasts approximately nine weeks and it occurs at the same time every year. It would be nice if these public officials could plan and execute these projects with a little more thought and concern for the community they represent.
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Mr. Britto told me they had to do this now because they are up against the Oct. 15 deadline. That sounds like poor planning to me. Was this project part of the original school rebuilding job? Why didn’t this project go out to bid locally? It makes me wonder about the competency of the board and its employees.