Elementary-age children would no longer have a chance to learn a foreign language at their neighborhood public school under a decision to dump "world languages" to save $3.5 million, Chicago Public School officials revealed to the Chicago Sun-Times Tuesday.
The move to ax languages such as Spanish, Japanese, French, Italian and Latin affects 25 neighborhood elementary schools that offer magnet programs in "world languages,'' as well as Juarez and Roosevelt high schools, officials said.
Without more money from Illinois lawmakers, the "world language'' magnet programs in the following city public schools are scheduled to be eliminated next school year:
Louisa May Alcott School
Andersen Community Academy
Ariel Community Academy
James G. Blaine School
Jonathan Burr Elementary School
Rachel Carson Elementary School
Salmon P. Chase School
William E. B. Dubois School
Robert Emmet School
Horace Greeley School
Alex Haley School
Bret Harte Elementary School
Charles Evans Hughes School
Friedrich L. Jahn School
George Leland Elementary School
Cyrus H. McCormick School
James Monroe School
Norwood Park Elementary School
James Otis School
William H. Ray School
Harriet E. Sayre Language Academy
Beulah Shoesmith School
John Greenleaf Whittier School
Theodore Roosevelt High School
Benito Juarez High School
Outside Ray Elementary in Hyde Park on Tuesday, more than 100 frustrated parents and teachers protested the proposed loss of a program that starts teaching kids Spanish in prekindergarten.
Parents say Spanish classes are the kind of perk that private schools enjoy, and one that makes Ray -- where U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan's kids attended classes -- attractive to families outside the neighborhood.
Ray parent Ying Zhang, who speaks English and Chinese, said knowing another language "makes our kids more competitive in the world'' -- a goal often emphasized by Mayor Daley.
"In another 20 or 30 years, the population that speaks Spanish is going to be dominant in the United States, so knowing Spanish is very important,'' Zhang said. "To learn another culture and language is very important in a global economy.''
A day earlier, the local alderman, Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), grilled Schools CEO Ron Huberman about the cuts at a City Council Finance Committee hearing.
Hairston said she wants a list of schools offering world languages, as well as those facing cuts, to see if every school is taking an equal hit under a proposal intended to help fill a $600 million budget gap.
Late Tuesday, CPS Budget Chief Christina Herzog released a list of 27 affected schools and said all world language magnet program positions were being closed -- a total of 40 jobs -- for a savings of $3.5 million. It was not clear why two high schools were singled out.
CPS intends to restore the world language program if lawmakers boost next year's funding to this year's level, CPS spokeswoman Monique Bond said.