Denise Rosenzweig just couldn't stop smiling. The news she'd been waiting to hear had arrived: Gov. Sonny Purdue had released money for the Georgia's pilot elementary foreign-language program.
"I'm just grinning from ear to ear," said Rosenzweig, a foreign-language advocate who has two children at Stevens Creek Elementary School. "It's a happy day in Columbia County for foreign language. It's been a very anxious time."
Stevens Creek is the only Columbia County that gets part of the $2.1 million for the foreign-language program. It is not known how much Stevens Creek will receive for the program this year, but it got $128,255 last year, enough to pay for roughly half of the program's expense. The school's Parent Teacher Organization picked up the rest of the tab for its five teachers.
Perdue announced this month that he would delay spending on millions of dollars in projects, including the foreign-language money.
The move prompted a flurry of phone calls and letters from local legislators, parents and school officials who worried they would have support the five teachers who already had signed employment contracts.
"It wasn't right to hold that money now when they have already signed contracts that the school's have committed to," said Sen. Joey Brush (R-Appling). "People have moved and bought houses and everything else based on these contracts."
Brush said the governor is working to develop an elementary foreign-language program that could be implemented throughout the state.
"To me there is no option for the next generation," he said. "These kids are going to have to learn a second language."
The pilot program, a model which some say is too expensive to practically implement, is in only 26 schools.
"We keep winning the battles. Maybe we'll eventually win the war and it will be over with," said Rep. Ben Harbin (R-Evans), who has advocated saving the program's funding and promote elementary foreign-language instruction.
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