Supervisors’ Comments on Japanese Immersion

In the past few days, two member of the Board of Supervisors have shown their lack of support for the Japanese Immersion Program.  None of the JCC co-Chairs heard the comments directly.  We are in the process of trying to understand why Japanese is specifically being mentioned – the JI program is a very small part of the school budget.  At this point, we have the following information.

From FLAGs: “John Cook, a member of the Board of Supervisors, says he cannot ask his constituents to pay more for Japanese immersion that only serves a ‘small elite’.”

Hunter Mill Supervisor, Cathy Hudgins also questioned the importance of JI.  As reported on wtop.com:

Supervisor Cathy Hudgins also questioned why the proposed budget does not include more to address the achievement gaps for disadvantaged students.

“Is Japanese immersion our mission? And in my public school system that I see today, what are my outcomes for those that must be part of our economic future? I know where those that are at the top are getting their outcomes because you’re meeting them. But the question is how can we not together afford to meet the needs of those that are at the bottom?” she said.

Here is the link to the full article:

http://wtop.com/fairfax-county/2016/02/fairfax-county-grapples-with-looming-school-budget-issues-2-6b-proposal/

It is important to understand that the Board of Supervisors sets the tax rate and the amount of county funds that are allocated to the school system, police department, libraries etc.  It is the School Board that decides how the funds are used within the school system.  For example, teacher salaries and programs like JI.  Both Cathy Hudgins and John Cook are members of the Board of Supervisors so they will not directly decide if JI is eliminated.

We have made phone calls to both of these supervisors.  Cathy Hudgins office told me she was very busy and that it was unlikely that we would get a call back.  John Cook’s office representative, Kyle, told us that our concerns would be relayed to Mr. Cook.  In both cases, our questions were not answered.

Questions that we have asked of the supervisors included:

  • Have they ever visited a school with a Japanese immersion program?
  • Why was the Japanese Immersion singled out – we calculate the cost as approximately .008% of our $2.6 billion budget.
  • Why is this program as is viewed for the elite?  We view it as for the average child. The application process does not discriminate in any way.
  • Why do the supervisors believe that it is appropriate to eliminate this well-established program that serve both English speaking and Japanese communities.
  • We also expressed that we believe that even discussion of eliminating this program is shameful to Fairfax county as is appears that the BOS does not value our Japanese community.

We encourage others who are concerned with the possibility of JI being eliminated to call and/or email these member of the Board of Supervisors as soon as possible.

Contact Information:

Cathy Hudgins

1801 Cameron Glen Drive Reston, VA 20190 703-478-0283,  TTY 711 huntermill@fairfaxcounty.gov

John Cook

9002 Burke Lake Road Burke, VA 22015 703-425-9300,TTY 711 braddock@fairfaxcounty.gov

You may also choose to cc the School Board Members:

jhough1@fcps.edu; megan.mclaughlin@fcps.edu; jane.strauss@fcps.edu; pat.hynes@fcps.edu;

ryan.mcelveen@fcps.edu; tdkaufax@fcps.edu; sandy.evans@fcps.edu; klcorbettsan@fcps.edu;

bgpress@fcps.edu; ilryong.moon@fcps.edu; dapalchik@fcps.edu; elizabeth.schultz@fcps.edu;

tawilson1@fcps.edu; superintendentgarza@fcps.edu; fairfaxflagsaction@gmail.com

On a positive note, we know that our School Board representative Jane Strauss and that of Fox Mill, Pat Hynes is supportive of the JI programs.  Ms. Hynes attended Fox Mill’s last two Japanese festivals (Matsuri), a recent PTA meeting, and has visited the school on other occasions.  She is very supportive of our program.  Great Falls ES PTA and JCC should make a similar effort to invite Ms. Strauss to visit our school and learn more about our program.  Furthermore, our own Board of Supervisor, John Foust, has been supportive of fully funding FCPS and worked hard to raise (though unsuccessful) the advertised tax rate.

Plans are being made for a meeting with members of FLAGs to discuss this issue over the weekend. We are working on a letter writing template that we hope to distribute next week.

The JCC will be discussing this issue at our JCC meeting at 7PM on Wednesday, March 16.

If you are interested in participating, please contact us at admin@jcc-gfes.org.