Karen Schulte: International program will expand horizons for Janesville students

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Karen Schulte
Sunday, March 30, 2014

For Jerry Maguire, it was all about “show me the money.” That’s not the way we operate. Certainly, we struggle with funding, and we are guided by balanced budgets, but we are not driven by profit.

The Janesville School District’s mission is to serve our community by educating every child; it is not to generate excess revenue, especially at the expense of our mission. I would like to share with you the educational component of our international program.

There have been discussions on how much the International Outreach Program will cost, where the revenue comes from and how much tuition the program will bring into the district. I have attempted to provide a transparent look at the financial side of the program.

What may be getting lost in this discussion are the educational benefits that a strong international program brings to the district. All of our partners—administration, staff, students and our community—stand to benefit from this exceptional undertaking. As I wrote this, Fritz Elsen, Craig High School teacher, and a group of students were in China soaking up that nation’s culture and sharing their experiences at the Global Economic Summit. We are building bridges academically, as well as an aggressive technology partnership that will enhance our international program in Janesville—both for international students studying in our district and Janesville students immersed in international studies.

If we are not involved in this undertaking strictly for the money, then why?

If we focus on Chinese alone, we know that more people in the world speak Mandarin Chinese than any other language. It is the official language of China and Taiwan. It is one of the official languages of the United Nations. China is a world power. The study of China is a necessary component as we provide educational opportunities that prepare our students for a world beyond our district’s boundary.

What better opportunity can we provide our students than to be able to study, side-by-side, with Chinese students? The academic benefits to our students in this program far outweigh the resources we are prepared to invest. Students from all over the world enrich our lives.

I provide this discussion knowing that funding cannot be overlooked. The district’s administration does not move forward with any programs without a focused discussion on costs, revenues and benefits. In the case of our International Education Program, and the Chinese component specifically, we see a tremendous opportunity to broaden our academic offerings to better prepare our students for a global environment. The fact that we may be able to self-fund the program while increasing enrollment is a big plus, but it’s not the only reason to move forward. It’s simply the right thing to do.

Yes, Jerry Maguire wanted to see the money. So do we. But we are most interested in educational opportunities for our students as we continue to serve our community by educating every child, and as we prepare our students for exciting and challenging global opportunities.

Karen Schulte is superintendent of the Janesville School District. Readers can contact her at 527 S. Franklin St., Janesville WI 53548; phone 608-743-5050; email kschulte@janesville.k12.wi.us.


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