ERA 5 - October 31, 1998

Greek Examinations Abolished in New York

By Justine Frangouli

The recent decision taken by the New York State Education Department to eliminate, without prior notice, the "annual sample examinations for Regents credit for students who have studied Modern Greek", in effect jeopardizes the continuation of Greek education in all schools under the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. It means that students will not earn credits for taking Modern Greek, and thus will be discouraged from pursuing further studies in Greek. Of course, the sentimental attachment of parents and children to their ancestral language will continue to play an important role, but nonetheless it is being seriously shaken by this unexpected development.

Thus, while the Greek Education Department of the Archdiocese has been responsible for organizing and conducting the annual state examinations in Greek and has covered the organizational and financial aspects of the procedure for 25 years, suddenly, the State which so far simply confirmed the results of the examinations, has for its own reasons resolved to abolish such long practice.

In an effort to reverse the decision taken by the New York State educational authorities, Archbishop Spyridon of America sent a letter of protest to the Governor of New York State, George Patakis, as well as to other state officials. He asked that responsibility for organizing and conducting Greek language examinations be left in the hands of the Archdiocese. Thus, students will gain recognition for their studies in Greek and in June 1999 credits could be given to all in the same uniform way as in previous years.

The Archdiocese Greek Education Department in an effort to seek equal treatment with other modern languages (French, Spanish, etc.) intends to discuss with State educational authorities the possibility of continuing to conduct examinations in Modern Greek until 2001, when all examinations in modern languages will be abolished.

In addition, Archbishop Spyridon has called on Greek Americans to prepare resolutions and collect signatures to pressure the Governor of New York and the State Department of Education into reversing its decision before, as he commented, it is too late. "It is imperative that all Greeks and philhellenes in America strive, at this critical moment, to preserve the foundation stone of our cultural patrimony," said the Archbishop.

[ Translated from Greek ]

[ ERA 5 - - October 31, 1998 ]