I am sadly not surprised by the report of a UNC committee to study ways to accommodate the Board of Governors’ determined intention to eliminate the UNC Law School’s Center for Civil Rights, Re “5 alternatives for changes at the UNC Center for Civil Rights” (July 9). The center provides an important check against the state’s political and economic elites who wish to expand their wealth and power at the expense of racial minorities and the entire working class of North Carolina. The alternatives range from awful to terrible.
The report meekly cautions that in complying with the BOG’s demand the university would find it difficult to capitalize on the name and legacy of the center’s founder, the late, great Julius Chambers. This is at the core of the problem: Folt and UNC administrators worry about UNC’s “brand” but say little of substance about protecting and extending the mission and work of the center. UNC’s administrators speak fine words about inclusiveness, diversity and safe spaces, but when it comes to meaningful actions to fight inequality on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised of this state the chancellor commissions a report that in effect offers a selection of poisons for the BOG to administer to the center. The administration perverts the state’s motto into “To seem rather than to be.”
Improve language education
I couldn’t agree more with the goal in “Reverse the decline in language education” (July 16): that all high school graduates be able to have a basic conversation in a second language. Unfortunately, the current approach to language education won’t get us there. A common refrain in American education is “I took three years of (insert language) and can’t speak a word.”
Research has found that just one percent of American adults today are proficient in a second language they studied in school. The current approach simply can’t provide enough intensity or time in the target language – and costs too much for almost no return. Rather than attempting to teach language to 100 percent of the students with a success rate of one percent, it’s time for a new approach to scale.
In grades K-12, the aim should be for 10 percent participation in “language immersion” programs that achieve advanced proficiency and then 90 percent participation in a “global immersion” approach that builds survival language skills and global competence. The existing world languages course platform, teaching positions and support resources could be repurposed to pursue this approach – and implement a global learning agenda that can actually achieve results.