District reconsideration of world language classes


Graphic illustration by Valerie Shu

No changes will be implemented within the World Language department until the 2024-25 school year.

Jasmine Rihal, Social Media Manager

On March 20, FUHSD announced that due to declining enrollment each school’s World Language department will also be downsized to offer only three languages. As the smallest language program on campus, Lynbrook’s Japanese program will be phased out by 2028, leaving only the French, Spanish and Chinese programs. 

The announcement raised concerns in the community that this proposal was made due to budget issues, but the district has stated that declining enrollment was the core reasoning for their decision. For the past few years, FUHSD has experienced high rates of declining enrollment, mainly due to the Bay Area housing crisis and COVID-19 pandemic, causing families to move to more affordable areas.

“The issue is not just a ‘lack of signups’ for World Languages — we see growth in requests for Japanese next year, and our other languages do a fantastic job with student retention,” French teacher Elizabeth Louie said. “Overall declining enrollment means that all departments are going to see fewer students, but because World Languages are smaller, these declines had a bigger impact on us.”

Students and parents were not notified of the proposal until the week of March 27 or given the opportunity to express their opinions before the decision was finalized. After the 2026-27 school year, Japanese will only be offered at Homestead and Fremont High Schools. Students from other FUHSD schools, who want to pursue Japanese will have to either cross-enroll between their home school and Homestead or Fremont or seek outside sources to continue their World Language studies.

“I imagine more students would look for separate, outside learning opportunities to learn Japanese rather than cross-enroll,” Japanese student and sophomore Deniz Genc said. “It would provide a lot more inconvenience if students were to commute to attend their Japanese class in the middle of the day throughout the week.”

FUHSD schools removing Japanese will have to phase out the department by reducing their course offerings by one level each year throughout the next five years. 

This large change in the World Language department has sparked criticism and disappointment from both students and teachers. On March 23, freshmen Vikrant Vadathavoor, Ishana Subrahmanyan, Ivy Hoo and Isaiah Sit created a petition urging the district to keep the FUHSD language programs in full. As of April 4, it has gained more than 1,800 signatures. 

“The petition was meant to show the school that there is support for these language programs and that we are against their elimination without our input,” Vadathavoor said. 

On March 31, the district held a board meeting at Lynbrook regarding this issue, which Superintendent Graham Clark attended to extend communication on the decision. It provided  an opportunity for students to ask questions directly to the board regarding this proposal and learn more about what it means. 

“I understand it, my program is small, but it’s also withstood really well in a time of declining enrollment, so it seems kind of short-sighted,” Japanese teacher Jeremy Kitchen said. “We have continued to create great opportunities for students, and the smallness of the program has created a tight knit community which has benefited students, as well as given students who took Japanese in middle school an opportunity to continue learning.”