Commentary: Regarding Arabic studies, we're not speaking the same language

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramFebruary 9, 2011 

On Sunday night, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined former President George W. Bush at the Super Bowl.

One night later, only a few miles away, some south Arlington and Mansfield parents delivered a sharp drop-kick to one of Bush's and Rice's dreams.

After 9-11, a federal commission concluded that America's security is at risk in part because so few of us read or understand Arabic.

Rice even said that unless more children learn Arabic, we can't spread our message of freedom.

Yet this week, when Mansfield school officials explained their plans to start teaching Arabic language and studies in four schools under a Bush-era federal program, they ran into a backlash.

Some parents even cited ... 9-11.

"Can we ever forget about 9-11?" asked Cindy Henderson, parent of a fifth-grader at Cross Timbers Intermediate School, in south Arlington but part of the Mansfield school district.

She's more upset that the Arabic studies program came as a surprise to her. (District officials have now slowed the plan.)

Henderson was quoted as saying: "I don't like it being stuffed down our throats."

That wasn't the original idea.

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