Starting this fall, the Houston Independent School District (ISD) will be adding its first Arabic Language Immersion Magnet School. The district’s Board of Education voted unanimously to approve plans for the new specialty public school campus at its November 13 meeting.
In response to the vote, Houston ISD Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier said in a district news release, “Houston is one of the world’s leading energy capitals and it has strong economic ties to the Middle East.” He added, “Those factors combine to create a significant demand in our city for Arabic language fluency — and we want to meet that demand,” Breitbart reported.
The new Arabic language-immersion magnet will have two pre-kindergarten and two kindergarten classes “that focus on Modern Standard Arabic,” KPRC-2 Houston reported.
The district told KPRC2 that it intended to add a new grade level each year as students move up to the fifth grade. Arabic is the second most common foreign language spoken at home in the school district, according to KPRC-2.
The Approval of Arabic Immersion Magnet School (E-1) document in the board meeting packet underscored a “significant demand for Arabic language training, both from families with Arabic ethnic cities and from members of other ethnic groups who simply want their children to grow up fully bilingual with valuable and rare language skills in an increasingly competitive global economy.”
It stated, “Houston is home to more than 75,000 Arab-Americans.”
Houston ranked ninth in cities with vibrant Arab-American populations in 2010, according to the Houston Chronicle, although the newspaper recently reported more conservative numbers than what was presented at the board meeting.
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