S.F. students launch petition opposing potential cuts to Japanese-language programs

San Francisco Unified School District students started an online petition urging the SFUSD Board of Education “to vote ‘No’ to cutting funds for Japanese language programs.”

According to the petition, which 3,809 people have signed as of March 2, Japanese language programs are among the classes and programs being proposed to cut in response to the district’s budget deficit.

According to a March 1 presentation given to the SFUSD board, the school district must reduce annual spending by $125 million dollars through staff reductions. The proposal calls for reducing 151 teachers and classroom support positions, including eliminating one full-time employee from the Japanese language program. Japanese is the only high school level language program facing cuts.

Proponents of the Japanese program said in the petition, “Japanese language classes often see total enrollment within days of signing up for classes. … Students who take Japanese gain lifelong skills in non-English languages and develop unique cultural perspectives.”

It went on to state, “Cutting the Japanese language program would prevent students from learning a new language (an essential skill in today’s society) and keep students from exploring their own or different cultures. Many students continue to learn Japanese beyond their high school years and apply their knowledge in careers like journalism, translation, art, and politics. The Japanese language is crucial to so many students, and cutting funding for this program would be detrimental to the future of Japanese culture in San Francisco and SFUSD students.”

“It is heartbreaking and upsetting that the school district I and many friends grew up in are trying to take away the Japanese programs ­— when there is clearly such a high demand for it from students, and when we already have exceptional educators who support the students,” Cyndi Ichinose wrote in the petition.

“By slashing them SFUSD is essentially denying the importance of the Japanese community, a vital and relevant commercial, cultural, and especially historical resource,” M. Toki added.

To view the petition, visit http://ow.ly/hoQa50I68UP.

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