Our children may be learning to be more than just bilingual at their elementary schools’ language immersion program. Since 2006 the federal government has spent millions to turn elementary schools around the country into training centers for future government intelligence agents.
In 2006, President George W. Bush announced the National Security Language Initiative (NSLI), a public school program to be coordinated by the State Department, the Department of Defense, the Department of Education, and the Director of National Intelligence.
A part of the larger National Security Education Program (NSEP), a Pentagon budget projection for Fiscal Year 2012 explained the purpose of the program was to “provide a cadre of highly qualified candidates for employment in the national security community.” Teaching “less commonly taught languages” to the nation’s children will guarantee a steady flow of “qualified language proficient candidates to the Federal sector.”
At a Senate hearing on the program in May, Senator Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) cited studies indicating that teaching children languages in elementary school makes them more proficient speakers as adults. Akaka is the chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia and he said “Our national and economic security is closely linked to how well our schools prepare students to succeed in a global environment.”
From kindergarten to twelfth grade, Washington is sending money to local school districts to help pay for the teachers and resources necessary to create these classes. Lily Bueno is one of the teachers hired with NSLI money. Bueno will begin teaching Portuguese at Lakeview Elementary School in Provo, Utah. According to an article in the (Provo) Daily Herald,“the U.S. government has deemed Portuguese a critical, strategic language to know for the future.” Utah received a $124,000 grant from the federal government, $10,000 of which will fund a “student training camp” to be held in the Lakeview district.
When school starts next week, 54 first-grade students will begin their 12-year federally funded language training program. In Gig Harbor, Washington, local high school junior John Adams will travel to China to study Chinese thanks to an NSLI scholarship.
Cash strapped schools are pleased to receive the money to support foreign language departments threatened by budget cuts. The problem with the NSLI, however, is that it is another step toward absolute federal control of local education standards and practices.
Another disturbing aspect of the NSLI is the indoctrination that is the byproduct of education managed by Washington. While most parents encourage their children to study foreign language, many would balk at having the federal government manage and monitor such instruction.