TO THE EDITOR: Colin Read’s column about our trade with China ended on a puzzling note, as Mr. Read suggests that the public schools can “invest in a nation” to remedy the economic woes of the USA.
I suggest investors with deeper pockets: corporate leaders who fled overseas in pursuit of cheap labor and deregulation of safety and production standards; big-box stores with shelves full of imported products; the banking industry that relentlessly promotes credit-card debt; CEOs of the military-industrial companies who allocate funds to costly weapons rather than meeting the needs of the civilian population.
Don’t worry, Mr. Read. Chinese is great, but other world languages are still in vogue. French: the second language of Southeast Asia, the second language of millions of francophone Africans, the primary language of Quebec, which has kept us from economic recession, a language prized worldwide for commerce and diplomacy. German: the language of the economic powerhouse of the EU, which just won the Nobel Peace Prize, in part thanks to Germany’s efforts urging all members to maintain economic stability.
About Farsi: Yes, let our students learn to communicate with the Iranian people, rather than go to war with them. Instead of beating the drums of war with Iran, we should remember this sad song from the invasion of Iraq, with its hollow Weapons of Mass Destruction refrain. War in the Mideast is disaster, draining our human and financial resources and inviting the anger of the Arab world and confrontation with Russia.
Thankfully, Mr. Read didn’t suggest dropping Spanish in our schools, so he must recognize that we are becoming a bilingual nation, in spite of ourselves. A strong offense is the best defense, and our students need all manner of classes to prepare them for competition in the international job market.