Thursday, 28 April 2011

Parlez-vous français?

Not anymore in Louisiana. Yesterday the state board of reagents decided to slash foreign language degrees in their universities:

More than 100 academic degree programs will be eliminated state-wide for not graduating enough students, the Louisiana Board of Regents decided Wednesday.

Nearly 200 more academic programs will be consolidated or shaped into new programs, under the plan approved by the board that sets policy for the state’s public colleges and universities. Southern University has the most degree programs being directly terminated, with 13 degrees lost, including its Spanish and French bachelor’s degrees, the Regents determined

Alongside other cuts at Grambling State University, no public historically black college in the state will offer a bachelor’s degree in a foreign language once the programs are phased out. That adds to other state-wide reductions in foreign language degree offerings the past two years.

“The consequences are dire,” said Southern foreign languages professor Thomas Miller, who unsuccessfully argued, “We are in the process of turning the program around.”
This seems strange to me considering that the state has a high concentration of both Creoles and Cajuns. Louisiana Creole people are descended from French and Spanish colonial settlers in Louisiana. Cajuns are the descendants of the Arcadian or Free French in the Canadian Maritime provinces who were neutral during the French and Indian Wars (1754 - 1763) and expelled to Louisiana. Both groups have a dialect of French and in recent years there has been a resurgence in its use after a long period of forced assimilation and the sole use of English in local schools. The economic consequences of their cultures to Louisiana has been substantial so eliminating  language degree programs is puzzling to me even under the rubric of efficiency and cost containment.

1 comment:

  1. Language programs are notoriously cheap to maintain and teaching languages like Spanish is very profitable because there is never any shortage of students wanting to take it. None of this has anything to do with cost-cutting. You could feed an entire Spanish program with getting rid of one highly-paid administrator.