by Max Brantley
John Miller, an executive with the French-owned Dassault Falcon jet manufacturer, which has a plane finishing operation in Little Rock, touted the idea:
Miller said the plant, whose employees speak 23 languages, contributes about $1 million in tax revenues and about $129 million in gross income and wages to the state’s economy annually. He said the plant expects to deliver 1,000 corporate jets to China over the next 10 years and that companies in Russia, India and Brazil are expected to be the next largest buyers.
“Not only is it a nice thing to have a foreign language and impress the relatives, but to compete in today’s society, and for Little Rock and Arkansas to continue these revenue streams, we must continue to provide our young people with more than reading, writing and arithmetic,” Miller said. “It is clear that without foreign language skills our graduates are at a distinct disadvantage in today’s global market.”
I worked harder on foreign languages in high school and college than any other subject because there was no way to finesse a language course. You had to learn the vocabulary and structure. It's great academic discipline. Hard to imagine a progressive idea like this gaining much steam in the Arkansas legislature, particularly for a scholarship program aimed at reaching out to the part of the population that hasn't considered college or has had a hard time completing it. Both my Louisiana public high school and the college I attended required two years of a foreign language for graduation. I don't expect a groundswell for that in Arkansas just yet.