Bibb County Schools Superintendent Romain Dallemand has the community buzzing with his plan to revamp Bibb County Schools.
He calls the plan the "Macon Miracle." The new deal offers over 100 different ways to restructure the school system.
In addition to year-round schooling, a reduction in teaching positions and the possible closing of several schools, one of the most talked about aspects of the plan is the call to make it mandatory for Bibb County students to learn Mandarin Chinese.
Nancy Rhodes, director of foreign language education with the Center for Applied Linguistics, says the teaching of eastern language has made great strides over the last few years.
Around four percent of schools teach Mandarin, which is up three percent from ten years before.
She says Spanish is still taught widely. About 90 percent of schools have Spanish programs, but other languages like French, German, Italian are all getting eliminated. The two that remain are Mandarin and Arabic. Though, Arabic is still low with only about one percent of schools teach the language.
Beyond that, Rhodes says Chinese is hot among superintendents and principals across the nation for two reasons: China's growing global influence, and Hanban, the Chinese Ministry of education has a Memorandum of Understanding with many schools, that make it an economical no-brainier to hire qualified, fluent teachers.
Rhodes says there might be a cultural learning curve when the teachers arrive in America, citing different discipline styles for and becoming accredited. Overall she doesn't see a downside to this move. In fact Rhodes thinks implementing a language program on this wide scale might make it more successful.
She says language programs are especially beneficial in districts, communities and schools with high poverty because learning another language gives the students opportunities and broadens horizons that they likely wouldn't have otherwise.