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Letters: Appalled by proposed German program cuts

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I recently learned that Park Rapids has the intention of cutting the German program at the high school, and I am absolutely appalled at this decision. I am a 2002 graduate of Park Rapids HS and took German for four years. I became so interested in the subject that I pursued it in college and have gone abroad four times, including the German trip with Linda Uscola my junior year of high school and one semester-long program at a college in Austria. I graduated from UMD in 2007 with German Studies and Teaching German majors, and I have been teaching German at La Crescent HS for the last two years. After this year, I will be moving to South Carolina with my husband to teach exploratory German in a small middle school.

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Being involved in education myself, I completely understand that funding gets cut on a yearly basis, and districts must make do in the way that makes most sense. Cutting German is not the way to save money in Park Rapids. First of all, taking away a teacher in a subject with a full-time load will not reduce salary, any way you look at it. If Spanish absorbs the German program, a second full-time Spanish teacher will be a must to keep class sizes under 45. Additional materials must be purchased, also taking away from the proposed budget issue.

Switching to all Spanish therefore becomes a political decision. I heard that Spanish was recently referred to by administrators as a "universal language," trying to emphasize the importance of learning it. Not to downplay the extent of spoken Spanish in the world, but this is simply flawed. Sure, many countries in the world speak Spanish. However, it is not a universal language in any sense of the term.

German must stay in Park Rapids because of the sheer numbers of students who are interested. Also, students should have a choice. Heritage is important to look at, along with education, employment and connecting cultures.

This is not a decision to make in passing or to solve budget issues; it is a decision that affects the education students in Park Rapids receive in the immediate future and the choices they make beyond their high school years.

Please keep the German program alive in my hometown so that I can be proud of the high school I graduated from.

Cara Thielen, 2002 PRAHS graduate, La Crescent German teacher

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