PHS Digital Journalism Project: Why students should take Everyday Spanish
By Ian Huhn
The ACLU reports that between 2012 and 2019 in Michigan, nearly 20% of arrests that border patrol agents made during that time, used a person speaking Spanish or another foreign language as reasonable suspicion. This statistic is just one piece of a larger problem in America when it comes to discrimination. We know something needs to be done when people are arrested in part because of the language they speak. Now, just because there is an existing problem doesn’t mean we can’t solve it. All over the country, there are classes in school that teach students to appreciate and accept other languages and cultures. One of these classes that is taught at Portland High School is Everyday Spanish. Everyday Spanish not only helps students further their proficiency in Spanish, but it also teaches them about other cultures and peoples.
Teaching students about cultures other than their own can help fight racism and discrimination before it takes hold. The revelations about border control are disturbing, but they wouldn’t exist if we educated our children about people who are different from us. This need for educating America’s kids goes beyond just border patrol. According to a survey done by Pew Research Center, 54% of Hispanic Americans reported experiencing a form of discrimination during the first year of the pandemic throughout the country. The results of this survey show just how much America needs classes like Everyday Spanish so that we can reduce these numbers and make America less discriminatory. But the survey also raises the question of why is America so racist and discriminatory toward Hispanics and Spanish speakers. A member of the community, Andrew Huhn, has an idea about why this might be. “A lot of people are scared that a new culture coming in will overtake their culture, and they're going to lose something,” he said. “They don’t see it as an opportunity to learn a new culture.” This raises an important point about embracing new cultures and learning to appreciate them. Classes like Everyday Spanish have evolved from furthering students' knowledge of the language to heavily focusing on having students learn, and teach their classmates about, Spanish-speaking cultures. Karri Welch, the teacher of Everyday Spanish, confirmed this, adding that the students learn about a cultural subject, then teach the rest of the class about it after research. As a student who took Everyday Spanish, I know firsthand what benefits the class provides. I have learned a lot about various Hispanic cultures and I have come to appreciate them the way I appreciate my own.
Even though the numbers look bad, racism in America is still widely viewed as socially unacceptable. Through this national sentiment and the implementation of classes like Everyday Spanish, these numbers can go down and widespread discrimination against Hispanics could become a thing of the past.
This article is part of a series written by PHS Digital Journalism students taught by Ms. Chandra Polasek. The articles were written for posting on The Portland Beacon. All articles are original work of the students.