In today's world, it would benefit us to better understand Arabic culture, rather than rely on stereotypes. With this in mind, Consolidated High School District 230 in southwest Cook County considered adding Arabic language courses at its high schools, at the request of several parents and students.
The school board vetoed the plan, however, much to the disappointment of interested students.
The issue is part of a growing trend in classrooms across the U.S. Along with Mandarin and Hindi, the National Security Language Initiative has funded classes in "critical" languages like Arabic since 2006.
"Some of these schools have 15 or 20 percent of their students who are of Arabic origin," Zaher Sahloul, president of the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, told the Chicago Tribune. He also argued that Arabic is essential to international trade.
"Yet, in spite of that, you have this reluctance to introduce it."
A district committee spent several months researching the benefits of such courses, along with other languages.
"If we were gonna go by demographics and that would be the determining factor in what language we wanted to add, it wouldn't be Arabic," said Assistant Superintendant Brenda Reynolds. "It would be Polish."