Letter: Scarborough schools misfire on Mandarin

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Schools in Portland and Oxford Hills are among those that have Confucius Classrooms teaching Mandarin and Chinese culture. The programs are overseen by the Chinese government, which pays the instructors. The local districts must pay one-time costs for visas and miscellaneous expenses for instructors of about $1,000.

Some Scarborough parents have made impassioned pleas for Chinese to be taught in our schools. The School Board chairwoman told me Scarborough looked into the Confucius Institute program last year, but chose not to pursue it. We couldn’t meet the December deadline, and we already had a teacher on the payroll who was certified by the Confucius Institute to teach Mandarin. That teacher is not teaching Mandarin because he is teaching something else.

So here we sit. Instead of focusing on a timely application to a program that is essentially free, the board continually submits a budget to the public asking to hire a full-time teacher at considerably more than $1,000. We have a teacher on the payroll who could teach Mandarin, but we are using him for something else. The impassioned parental pleas go unanswered. The school budget goes up.

Is it any wonder why people have such little faith that government and governing bodies like the School Board are looking out for our best interests?

Michael B. Turek