Eva Moskowitz is CEO and Founder of Success Academy Charter Schools, responsible for approximately 9,000 students at 32 New York City charter schools. Moskowitz sat down for an interview with the American Enterprise Institute this week and talked about how to fit everything she thinks is important for students — coding, recess, science five days a week — into the school day. A recent fix, Moskowitz said, was to remove foreign languages.
From the interview:
So something has to go. We have chosen—and you know this may shock this audience—we have chosen foreign languages. People say “You don’t believe in foreign languages?” I like multilingualism. I speak French, but something had to go. … We can’t do everything. And by the way, Americans tend not to be very good at foreign languages. I think if I went to schools in Europe, maybe I would feel differently. But my son took three years of French and he could barely say, “How are you?” … I really believe that whatever we do, we should do it exceptionally well and I wasn’t sure I could find really really good foreign language teachers who could do it at a very, very high level.
Indeed, foreign language education is on the decline in the United States, at least in elementary and middle schools, which is Success Academy’s forte. (High schools have held steady at 91%, and Success has only one high school so far.) Here’s the change in the percentage of US schools offering foreign language classes in 2008 compared to 1997, according to a study funded by the US Department of Education:
In Moskowitz’s defense, English continues to assert its dominance as the language of the global economy, although some would argue that simply relying on everyone to speak English could be detrimental to business growth. Americans, while potentially sacrificing the advantages of bilingualism and the foreign language. study (pdf).