South Pas parents discuss potential for district-wide Korean language program

South Pas residents met to discuss plans for the potential implementation of a Korean language program for all SPUSD schools Saturday, Oct. 13.

Interest in the addition of Korean language classes was first expressed in September, when 10 South Pas parents personally met with SPHS Assistant Principal of Curriculum, Instruction and Guidance Janet Wichman to introduce their plan. Following the visit, Wichman requested the distribution of a preliminary survey to gauge interest in the program. Results of the survey were collected digitally on Oct. 8, and the names of 72 parents and 90 students grades K-12 were collected, the student sum surpassing the required number of 30 interested students necessary for class creation at the high school.

Other areas of concern addressed during the parents’ meeting with Wichman involved finding course materials and a list of potential teachers for the high school classes. Both are currently being assessed by members of the Foundation For Korean Language and Culture in the USA, an organization with direct connections to the South Korean government, who were attendance during the meeting. The group hopes to implement SPHS Korean classes by fall of 2019, assuming that these resources can be obtained before the end of the 2018-19 school year with district approval.

A second poll was recently released to measure the fluency levels of students following the subsequent approval of the initial survey by the school board, though, as of Oct. 14, results have not been released. The board will have a better understanding of the number of classes and levels that must be created once data is collected from the survey.

One of the group’s long term goals is to be able to offer AP Korean courses at the high school level. However, College Board requirements only allow the creation of AP courses whose subjects are taught at the regular level in at least 400 schools nationwide. The current total is 185 classes throughout all middle and high schools in the US.

Research from attending parents suggests that 500 Korean families currently reside in South Pasadena, with 150 to 250 students at SPMS and 150 at SPHS. Additionally, Korean was found to be the third most commonly spoken non-English language in the city, following Spanish and Chinese.

“If 10 percent of South Pas students speak Korean, I believe that the curriculum should represent that demographic,” community member Deborah Oh said.

The parents will await correspondence from Assistant Principal Wichman after she discusses the results of the second poll with the district board. The group will continue their search for course materials and teachers until the board announces developments next month.

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