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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Parents, students petition to keep Spanish classes at Zephyrhills High

Word spread quickly last week that Zephyrhills High School principal Andy Frelick planned to cut Spanish classes and offer French instead. Spanish would be available only as an online course.

People were not happy.

An online petition sprang up, quickly netting more than 250 e-signatures. And superintendent Kurt Browning started getting several emails. They were unanimous in their opposition to the idea.

"I'm going into high school next year, and in order to get into a good college/graduate you have to take two consecutive years of a foreign language," student Brendan Brill wrote. "In Florida, Spanish is a popular language and I'm not gonna have any use really for French. So I would take Spanish, but I wouldn't do it online because I wouldn't learn anything. I'd most likely end up getting lazy and just google translating all of it."

Offered parent Kelly Brooks, "I feel that this is not in the best interest of any child growing up in Florida. Learning Spanish is crucial for communication in this state with over 2.5 million people speaking it, whereas French is spoken by less than 300,000. The principal is doing our children a disservice by eliminating the wrong language at Zephyrhills High School. Please advise what can be done to correct this situation in the best interest of our children’s education."

Browning agreed, and killed the idea of eliminating Spanish courses, district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said. The plan now calls for the school to offer both Spanish and French, she said.

Asked for an explanation of the dustup, Cobbe said Frelick told her that the school's Spanish course enrollment had gone down by more than half in recent years, and he wanted to change the school. To him, that meant getting rid of the Spanish teacher. So he changed allocations to make that happen.

But in the face of the opposition, she said, Zephyrhills will continue to offer Spanish next year.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 7:25am]


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