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Parents lament changes to Blue Valley Schools Chinese Immersion program

Blue Valley Parents
Posted at 6:09 PM, Nov 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-14 22:14:42-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Blue Valley Schools Board of Education's recent vote to make changes to the district's Chinese Immersion programs has some parents feeling like their children are left out.

“They’re losing this ability to understand other people around the world in a way that they can never get back if they don’t learn when they are young,” said Will Clough, who planned to put his children in the program. “So it’s a whole lifetime of potential cultural experiences and interactions with other people that you’re now losing out on.”

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Hough echoes what many other parents have been concerned about.

The changes don't eliminate the program, but they could lead to a reduction in the number of available seats in classrooms.

It will continue at Wolf Springs Elementary School, but for the students in the program in the Valley Park Elementary School area, the future’s a lot more complicated.

It's a big problem for parents that bought homes in the area specifically so their children could participate in the program.

“We upended our lives to come here and make this work and we feel like the whole reason that we moved into this neighborhood has just been taken away from us," Clough said.

 Another father, Kellen Lutz, is in the same situation.

“We specifically chose Valley Park when we moved here because they have the program," Lutz said. "That’s why we moved to this district.”

Both Clough and Lutz's kids, who are just about to enter kindergarten, just missed the cut off.

“The vote that the board took last night just cut off his access to Chinese Immersion,” Clough said of his son.

District officials said it's been difficult to find qualified teachers who can staff the program.

It's one of the reasons the board voted to consolidate to Wolf Springs Elementary and sunset the program at Valley Park Elementary.

That will lead to smaller enrollment availability and the distance makes it difficult for some parents to bring any future children farther south to Wolf Springs.

“This program is so much more than just passing an AP test," Clough said. "It is about learning and getting immersed in another culture that is the worlds most widely spoken language."