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Barbara Rusterholz: Reasons for French to stay in curriculum

From the COLLECTION: Nearly 50 recent letters from our Opinion Pages series

It appears that the La Crosse schools plan to eliminate French classes after the 2023 school year. This news caused me to wonder: Why might school administrators think French is not important?

  • “French has no relevance to us in Wisconsin.” La Crosse, Prairie du Chien, Trempealeau and many other place names are testimony to our French history. Here in La Crosse, for over 30 years we have maintained a sister city relationship with Epinal, France, home of the European headquarters of Trane Company. Hundreds of La Crosse students have traveled to Epinal and hosted students from Epinal in their homes. Exchanges have also occurred between soccer teams, quilters, logrollers, musicians and others.
  • “France is not a major player in today's world.” French is an official language of NATO, the European Union and the United Nations, and in 27 countries around the world, including 15 in Africa. The Peace Corps, Doctors without Borders and Partners in Health are examples of organizations that operate in some of those countries. Former students from La Crosse have used their French in careers with Canadian companies, as translators in Europe, and with a French-owned cheese company in Wisconsin.
  • “Students who were planning to take French can replace it with another elective.” This statement ignores the unique benefits of learning another language, including improved brain development, better concentration and understanding of other cultures.

I strongly urge the school district to rethink this decision. It is not in the best interest of the students

Barbara Rusterholz

La Crosse 

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