Vail Daily Editor and Publisher Don Rogers: Luxuries we can’t afford |

Vail Daily Editor and Publisher Don Rogers: Luxuries we can’t afford

Don Rogers
Vail, CO, Colorado

Last I looked, Spanish was still considered a “foreign language.” So was Mandarin Chinese.

Cutting out French and German in the high schools in favor of online options is no fun, and not necessarily what I would do if I were king of the school district.

But neither is it foreign language armageddon.

The school district has not gutted foreign language by excising French and German from the course


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The school board made a tough decision, but an obvious one, too.

Nearly all the kids who take a foreign language in high school take Spanish.

About 170 more take Mandarin Chinese.

A relative handful were taking French (92) and all of nine studied German last school year.

Moving to online instruction for these and other courses may or may not be ideal, depending on the student. But plenty of people have furthered their education quite capably this way.

It’s a perfectly sound and reasonable way to stretch course offerings for small, rural districts such as ours.

I even see online as a means to challenge the gifted kids who tend to be overlooked in favor of bringing the greater middle mass along. I think this has been exacerbated in our current era that seems to peg everything on test scores.

French and German are headed the way of Latin in our region. Latin once was a standard requirement in education, but that era has long since passed. Greek remains a crucial language for scholarship, but we’re unlikely to hear many arguments for hiring Greek language teachers in our high schools. I’ll bet Greek and Latin courses are available online, though.

Sure, I’m exaggerating here a little. But only a little.

What’s happening is the school district must cut the least essential of what we saw as key pieces of K-12 education – when we had the luxury of boom time funding.

Pretty much all of us in the private and pubic sectors have had to let go of our equivalents of French and German electives in favor of Spanish in our own ways, to push this as a metaphor.

I still believe that it’s wiser to shut down underused school facilities to be stronger at the teacher level. The evidence shows teachers and principals make the most difference in the quality of education, and so our district ought to follow this path.

That said, the school district made an entirely rational decision given their situation. The bubble has burst. The boom is over.


Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at or 970-748-2920.

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