County Executive in Michigan Calls for Mandarin for All

By Bess Keller — February 20, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The executive of Oakland County, Mich, is pushing for a rarity. L. Brooks Patterson wants all 28 school districts in his suburban county northwest of Detroit to offer Mandarin Chinese.

Pointing to China as a mighty economic engine with one-fifth of the world’s people, the county executive said students in Michigan, with its lagging automobile industry and high unemployment, need to be ready to do business with the Asian giant.

“When I can boast that all 28 school districts in Oakland County are teaching Mandarin at some level, I don’t think we can even begin to predict a return on that educational investment,” Mr. Patterson said in his State of the County address this month.

Currently, just four of the county’s districts—and those among the wealthiest in the state—offer the language.

Mandarin classes are popular in several big-city systems, but for multiple districts in the same area to teach Chinese appears unusual.

The Oakland County executive has held talks with several superintendents about the idea. He says it might play out differently in different districts—through distance learning or classes introducing Chinese language and culture, for instance.

The superintendent of the 15,800 Walled Lake district said the executive’s suggestion is well founded, although it raises challenges. Finding certified teachers for the subject is chief among them, Superintendent William A. Hamilton said.

In the 6,000-student Bloomfield Hills district, where Chinese has been taught as one of seven languages at the high school level since the 1990s, the Mandarin classes enroll more than 100 students, according to Superintendent Steven A. Gaynor. “The only question for us is whether we expand it to the lower grades,” he added.

See Also

See other stories on education issues in Michigan. See data on Michigan’s public school system.

For more stories on this topic see Curriculum and Learning.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the February 21, 2007 edition of Education Week


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attend to the Whole Child: Non-Academic Factors within MTSS
Learn strategies for proactively identifying and addressing non-academic barriers to student success within an MTSS framework.
Content provided by Renaissance
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum How to Teach Digital & Media Literacy in the Age of AI
Join this free event to dig into crucial questions about how to help students build a foundation of digital literacy.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Curriculum Opinion Media Literacy Is an Essential Skill. Schools Should Teach It That Way
From biased news coverage to generative AI, students (and adults) need help now more than ever to stay abreast of what’s real—or misleading.
Nate Noorlander
5 min read
Illustration of boy reading smartphone
Curriculum Interactive Play the EdWeek Spelling Bee
Educators use these words all the time. But can they spell them?
Image of a stage set up for a spelling bee.
Leonard Mc Lane/DigitalVision
Curriculum Outdoor Learning: The Ultimate Student Engagement Hack?
Outdoor learning offers a host of evidence-based benefits for students. One Virginia school serves as an example how.
7 min read
Students from Centreville Elementary School in Fairfax, Va., release brook trout they’ve grown from eggs in their classroom into Passage Creek at Elizabeth Furnace Recreational Area in the George Washington National Forest in Fort Valley, Va. on April 23.
Students from Centreville Elementary School in Fairfax, Va., release brook trout that they’ve grown from eggs in their classroom at a creek in Fort Valley, Va., on April 23.
Sam Mallon/Education Week
Curriculum Opinion Classical Education Is Taking Off. What’s the Appeal?
Classical schooling is an apprenticeship to the great minds and creators of the past, enabling students to develop their own thinking.
9 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty