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SHUSHAN KARAPETIAN, C.PHIL ARMENIAN STUDIES, UCLA APRIL 13, 2013 “Where is the Line of Retreat?”: Challenges Facing Armenian Schools in Southern California.

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Presentation on theme: "SHUSHAN KARAPETIAN, C.PHIL ARMENIAN STUDIES, UCLA APRIL 13, 2013 “Where is the Line of Retreat?”: Challenges Facing Armenian Schools in Southern California."— Presentation transcript:

1 SHUSHAN KARAPETIAN, C.PHIL ARMENIAN STUDIES, UCLA APRIL 13, 2013 “Where is the Line of Retreat?”: Challenges Facing Armenian Schools in Southern California

2 Where is Armenia?

3 Armenian Immigration to the United States  First Wave:19th – early 20th century  Protestant Missionaries  Post massacres and Genocide  Second Wave  Political unrest in the Middle East 1970s  Collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s

4 Armenians in the United States 2000 U.S. Census  385,488 respondents indicated either full or partial Armenian ancestry  153,000 Armenians in Los Angeles County 2007 American Community Survey  446,032 Americans with full or partial Armenian ancestry 40% of the population of Glendale (around 80,000) and the student body of the Glendale Unified School District

5 The Armenian Language

6 Evolution of Armenian Language Classical Armenian Western Armenian Classical Orthography Eastern Armenian Classical Orthography Reformed Orthography

7 Language Maintenance – LA Community Private Armenian Community Schools  Day schools ranging from K-12  Saturday schools  Preschools After school Armenian language programs in public schools Immersion programs in 2 GUSD elementary schools Armenian Charter School in North Hollywood Colleges and Universities  UCLA, CSUN, GCC, PCC

8 Prelacy Armenian Schools (Total enrollment – 2402)  7 preschools  5 K-12 schools  1 K-8 school Non-prelacy Armenian schools (Total enrollment – 2130)  2 PK-12  5 PK-8  1 PK-6  Serve under 5% of Armenian community Armenian Private Day Schools

9 Mission Statement of Prelacy Schools The mission of Prelacy Armenian Schools is to ensure academic excellence in accordance with Federal and State guidelines and standards. In addition, the schools strive to develop in our students a strong sense of national and spiritual values and prepare them to become well-rounded and outstanding Armenian-American citizens. The students are highly encouraged to actively participate and contribute to the well-being of the global and local communities. The Prelacy Armenian Schools promote Armenian principals and values and the preservation of the ethnic heritage, language, culture, tradition, history, and religion of the Armenian people. The students are motivated and inspired to be actively involved in the pursuit of the Armenian Cause and strengthen the independence of Armenia, based on principles of democracy, equality, justice, and economic prosperity.

10 Decline General decline in enrollment in both prelacy and non-prelacy schools  Demographics  Economy Growing competition from public school system  Charter  After school programs  Immersion programs

11 Projects/Committees Saroyan Project  Round-table discussion about reevaluating Armenian curriculum at Chamlian Armenian School (May 2011)  “We have a two-pronged problem at our school. First, our students don’t like Armenian class. Second, they don’t graduate with high proficiency in Armenian.” (Vazgen Madenlian, Principal of Chamlian) Armenian Task Force  Established by the Board of Regents of Prelacy Armenian Schools to reevaluate Armenian curricula

12 Challenges Role of Armenian Issue of two standards Issue of two orthographies Quality of education Safe and “Armenian” environment Teachers Re-evaluation of the role of language in Armenian identity (Rubina Peroomian, 2006)

13 Who is Armenian?

14 Teachers No institution which prepares and certifies Armenian teachers for the Diaspora  Most teachers are hired based on recommendations and previous experience teaching in another diaspora community (Syria, Lebanon, Iran).  There is no uniformity in the instructors’ theoretical and methodological approach.  On the contrary - each teacher comes from a different school of pedagogy (if they indeed have some kind of formal pedagogical education) and with very diverse attitudes about what kind of Armenian should be taught and how it should be instructed.

15 Teachers Training in Armenian Studies and pedagogical methods Resources Compensation Future generation of teachers?

16 Students Already children of heritage learners/speakers View Armenian as an imposed subject which remains within the boundaries of the classroom Lack motivation/incentive to pursue Armenian Language compartmentalization (Kouloujian)

17 Parents Linguistic proficiency Attitude Support

18 Mothers’ Birthplace Fathers’ Background Ethnicity  Armenian 96%, Czech 4%  Iran 42%  US 15%  Syria 15%  Armenia 12%  Lebanon 8%  Germany 4%  Prague 4% Age of arrival in US: 15 Ethnicity  Armenian 88%, Polish 4%, Russian, 4%, Italian 4% Birthplace  Iran 38%  Lebanon 12%  Iraq 7.5%  Kuwait 7.5%  US 7.5%  Syria 7.5%  Armenia 4%  Israel 4%  Ethiopia 4%  Russia 4%  Argentina 4%  Germany 4%  Prague 4% Age of arrive to US: 17 Demographics of Parents

19 Parental Attitudes Rate the following factors in your decision to send your child to Chamlian from most important to least important (1 being most important, 5 being least important). 31% Safe environment 24%Standards of education 15%High proficiency/fluency in the Armenian language 15%Fostering a sense of “Armenian-ness” 15%Armenian environment (social circle, friends, activities)

20 Unique Features of Armenian-American Community Armenian-American community, particularly in Los Angeles vs. traditional Diaspora Armenian  Diverse & Hybrid Armenian-American community school vs. traditional Armenian community school  American private school with Armenian as a foreign language Armenian-American learner vs. traditional Armenian heritage learner  Lower proficiency, English dominant heritage learner

21 Concerns Schools not producing critical mass which consumes and produces Armenian culture in Armenian (Kouloujian)  Teachers  Writers  Newspaper editors  Community leaders  Administrators

22 Looking ahead…. Define the minimum role of Armenian in order to achieve a self-sustaining critical mass Promote minimum role  Business model  Clarify product  Define market  Establish methods of delivering product Include all stakeholders as partners  Teachers, parents, students, administrators


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