Opinion: Alaska Native language immersion

"Wiinga qigcikaqa pelii America-m tusngavia-llu.

Atauciurrluku nunavut Agayutem aciani.

Itumcimanga'unani piyunarquciakun

elluarrluki-llu tamalkuitnun.

These are the words I hear every morning while I am getting the day started at Kwigillingok School. This is the sound of Mary Ann Wilkinson's third-grade students reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in the language of their homes: Yup'ik. As the state debates the desirability of further federal involvement in Alaska education, there are a number of questions which need to be asked.

These Kwigillingok students, like their fellow classmates in kindergarten and first and second grade, receive all of their instruction in the language of their families. These same Yup'ik-speaking students, under order of the federal government, are tested, measured and evaluated in a foreign language in which they have had no instruction during the academic year. While the feds pore over these standardized test scores (whose standards?), Alaskans must decide if the preservation of a language is as important as standardized test performance in the majority language of our nation."

Get the Story:
Walter Betz: Questions about Yup'ik education reveal flaw in thinking (The Anchorage Daily News 6/25)

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