Quakertown Community eighth-grader Julia Henry’s lifelong dream to study French may soon become a reality.
Julia’s mother, Michelle, said she was told by Assistant Superintendent Lisa Hoffman that the district was “cautiously optimistic” it would be able to offer Cyber French 1 next school year. Quakertown is one of three districts in Bucks and Montgomery counties that doesn’t offer the language in spite of a clear preference for it in a 2017 middle student survey and subsequent course selection survey.
Michelle Henry is also cautiously optimistic despite a series of crushing setbacks and what she calls brick walls placed in front of her daughter’s and other students’ college and career goals.
“I do feel they’re trying to make some kind of French happen in the district, but exactly what it will look like we’re not sure yet,” she said Monday.
Students taking cyber courses typically work at their own pace after enrolling, or log in at a set time and receive instruction remotely.
The Henry family and other students’ hopes were dashed earlier this month when School Board President Steaven Klein said emphatically that the subject would not be offered in the 2019-2020 school year because of budgetary concerns and because a French program “would take time to build.” Klein added that if the demand were there in a few years time, the district could again offer it.
Henry countered that 58 academically eligible students had signed up for French during course selection last year; the course was later removed without explanation.
Borrowing a phrase from board member Keith Micucci on another topic, Michelle Henry said she was “completely and utterly baffled” that the district could not figure out a way to keep her daughter in the district. The family attended an open house at Lehigh Valley Charter School for the Arts in Bethlehem and has been considering sending Julia there to study French if it isn’t available at the high school.
Sophomore Lara Eltohami and Richland Township resident Leonard Messina also spoke in favor of the curriculum change. Eltohami said not being able to take French courses was a hindrance to her career objectives. Messina said a lot of money had been spent elsewhere – on athletic fields. “As a taxpayer, I would like to see a small fraction of that money spent on implementing teaching of French.”
Henry says Hoffman told her she will be informed of the district’s plans by the end of February.
As of Monday, 390 people had signed a petition on change.org requesting French 1 to be added to the QCSD curriculum.