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Cutting Class

news_cabrilloCancellation of Cabrillo’s Chinese language program causes a stir
Budget cuts: two of the most dreaded words in current economic times and, unfortunately, also two of the most common. With the state’s deficit at a staggering $19.1 billion, funding for social programs has been hacked away, leaving schools and communities to deal with the brunt of the blow.

For most of the Golden State’s public schools, this means having to cut many needed and desired courses. Cabrillo Community College is no exception.

“Over the past three years I’ve had to cut a total of 11 language courses,” explains Jim Weckler, dean of business, English and language arts. Yet out of the 11, none have caused more of an uproar in the community than the cancellation of the entire Chinese language program. A group calling itself the Friends of Chinese Language at Cabrillo College is looking for some answers.

Founded by Cynthia Berger and Marlene Majewska, two concerned citizens who met earlier this year after a Cabrillo Board meeting, the Friends of Chinese formed when the two began wondering why such an important language was being cut altogether. According to the U.S. Census, Chinese is the fourth most-spoken language in the country, and it also claims the most native speakers, making it the most spoken language in the world. The U.S.-China Business Council estimates exports to China from the 17th Congressional District, which includes Santa Cruz, rose an impressive 224 percent in the past decade. Berger is quick to point out that many jobs in the district will give a bonus for knowing the language. Three petitions against Cabrillo’s decision have already been circulated; one in October 2009 and two more last spring. “[The school’s decision] just didn’t make sense,” Majewska sighs.

So why the cuts?

According to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, state funding is determined by the enrollment on the date of the census. Yet, data from Cabrillo’s own Planning and Research Office shows that Introductory Chinese course had well above the minimum requirement of enrollment while Intermediate Chinese, which was cut last year, would at least meet the minimum. Friends of Chinese sent Weckler and the Cabrillo College Governing Board a letter detailing enrollment statistics along with questions and concerns that they say still haven’t been answered.

Weckler points to two main factors for the decision: money and sequencing.

Normally, two language courses are given in the fall semester, each one having a varying number of no-shows, dropouts and withdrawals. The idea is that by the end of the first semester there will be a core of committed students to continue onto the spring semester. However, four years ago, when Chinese was reinstated to the curriculum after a long hiatus, Weckler “had enough teaching units to offer one in the fall and two in the spring. Which, in hindsight, isn’t the way to start a language sequence.”

What does this mean for the current students at Cabrillo and the surrounding community? “There were seven languages at Cabrillo. Five of them were Western, with Chinese and Japanese [as the other two],” says Berger, explaining that students who want to major in Asian Studies will now have Japanese as their only option for fulfilling their requirements. “We also know they didn’t consult with the chair of the Asian Studies when they cut Chinese,” she adds.

Majewska points out that this will widen the curriculum gap. “Just the other day I was talking with a woman who now has to drive over the hill so her son can learn Chinese,” she says.

But all might not be lost for the Friends of Chinese. When asked about the group, Weckler chuckles in delight. “I consider myself a friend of Chinese language, by the way,” he says. “We are bringing Chinese back once we get this budget thing figured out.”

At a recent board meeting, prominent local businessman George Ow Jr. offered to donate roughly $15,000 to reinstate the course. A combined effort from the Asian community along with the Friends, pledge to match the amount. However, this is still in negotiations as some question whether or not having a public institution teach privately funded courses is a wise idea. For the time being, Majewska offers this advice for anyone who wants to take action, “If people write to their trustees, and call their trustees, and meet with them, then they can influence them to put this on the agenda.”

Comments (6)Add Comment
...
written by Shin Shau Dong, September 24, 2011
I agree with Ichun Chen. Chinese teacher no good. Need new Chinese teacher.
I took the Chinese Class in Cabrillo College , it is good thing to be cut with a bad teacher
written by Ichun Chen, February 24, 2011
What is really horrible? The teacher who teach Chinese in Cabrillo.
I took Chinese Class in Cabrillo College. Ther Chinese teacher is really bad.
She didn't know how to teach, and use students to do many works for her.
Design the DM for her, grade homework for her, sent out DM for her.
She didn't give any feeback from our project and ssignments.
I gread whole semester for her, but nobody gread mine.
She gave students lower grade and tell us to singing her class again and work more for her,
then she would change the grade for us.
(make flash crads for her to teach)
After consult with other teacher, student report to school about what she had been done.

Before Cabrillo College find a better Chinese teacher, it is good to stop Chinese course.
As I know , after took her class, many students just doesn't like Chinese any more.
I know the teacher, me and students talk about how bad as a teacher she is.
Ther teacher got fire from other school, because she fough with other teacher at school.
Not only the money, we also need good teacher!

Students of Cabrillo College
Students also need a good teacher to have the Chinese Course start.


There is a core of committed students
written by Amy Bao, September 17, 2010
What Weckler said does not make sense to me at all. If he did a poor planning four years ago, he should learn from his mistake instead of punishing the students and community. Since Chinese has had three classes each year, Cabrillo just need to use the same amount funding to offer two classes in fall, and one class in spring. Why Cabrillo needs to cancel all Chinese classes completely?
Also, Weckler said he needs "by the end of the first semester there will be a core of committed students to continue onto the spring semester." I was in the 2009 fall Chinese-1 2009 class. Over 30 students from that class were committed to take Chinese-2 in 2010 spring. We delivered a petition to the president's office telling them that over 30 of us are committed to take Chinese-2. We know the the minimal number to have a class is 18. One of my fellow students also got data from a Cabrillo office. I saw there had been "a core of committed students to continue onto the spring semester" in the past three years. Cabrillo should talk to the students, the instructors, and the chair before cut Chinese. It seems to me that the decision maker is just being defensive now.
I have just checked Cabrillo Website. There are still a lot of unfilled classes this fall. Cabrillo should have a better arrangement. I agree with plaidsportcoat that Cabrillo definitley has enough money for Chinese. It is all about priortizing--deprortizing Asian studies and Chinese language. Besides, according to an article in Sentinel ealier, Cabrillo accepted a lot of targeted donations from individuals and businesses including Bill Gates. Why Cabrillo cannot accept local Asian businessman and Asian organizations' sponsorship? Their money is hard-earned clean money. I think it is very disrespectful to local Asian people.
Cabrillo should announce a specific plan to the community.
where Chinese language goes, so goes the nation
written by sue, September 02, 2010
I do not live near Santa Cruz, but I read the article on line. It is sad to see that our American Education system is falling in a down hill spiral. Or, perhaps, it is only California's education system? If so, I'm sure the rest of the nation won't be too far behind. Where I work I hear from the college age students how their schools are so impacted due to cuts that they could only get into one, maybe two classes this fall.
Also, my neice who wanted to take Japanese in high school couldn't because they too downsized and canceled the classes. Seems like a backwards way of getting our youth educated. Nothing forward moving about it.
Thanks Matt for putting this information out there and informing us readers of some of the problems that are going on in our colledge systems today. Too bad the PRICE for an education isn't going backwards as well.
There is enough money for Chinese!
written by plaidsportcoat, September 01, 2010
They just chose to cut Chinese for no good reason. Just because the powers that be cut Chinese does NOT mean "there is no money for Chinese".That is actually part of what the author is saying in this article. Actually, there is plenty of money to have just as much Chinese as any other language for examploe, German (they only have German one - why don't they also only offer Chinese ! instead of cutting a super-important language. Cutting Chinese is like cutting Spanish - only the Chinese Americans are quiet and not a political in this area. So the powers that be take advantage of that. Yet there is zero good reason to cut Chinese when there are other langauges that could be pared back in order to afford a Chinese class that has better enrollment.
Budget Cuts are horrible
written by Brandon Siddall, September 01, 2010
Its horrible that we don't have the money to save the chinese program. We really need to focus on education funding in this country. I really like your article, it gets straight to the point and teaches me about the Cabrillo College program. Great job Matt.

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