Spanish and Portuguese learners in the United States are being asked to pay $1,000 each to support language courses in English and Spanish, and $300 for a Spanish-language language course, as part of a new crackdown on “illegal” language courses.
Under the new guidelines, students must also pay $50 to help with the cost of their classes and $20 for each class they leave early.
The new rules are meant to discourage illegal language courses, and are intended to help keep schools from losing their accreditation, said Kathleen Dye, executive director of the American Council on Education.
The $1 million in fees are expected to be paid to students who are not enrolled in Spanish- and Portuguese-language classes, or who are at-risk of dropping out because of financial problems, Dye said.
“It’s a significant incentive for students to stay in the program,” Dye told The Hill.
“It’s the first time that we’ve seen that.”
The rules are part of an effort to fight the spread of the flu, the virus that has killed nearly 400,000 people in the U.S. since it was first detected in September.
More than 200,000 Spanish-speaking students and teachers were already required to pay for classes under the Fluvac rules, but the new rules would require them to do the same for Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking learners.
“If you are a Spanish speaker, you have a lot more choice than people who are just speaking Spanish,” said Jessica R. Rodriguez, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author of the new book, “The Fluvax: How Flu Vaccines Can Help Your Health and the World.”
“But the flu vaccine, while not 100 percent effective, is effective enough for some.”
Dye said the new fee is designed to discourage people from dropping out of Spanish-and-English classes.
“We are really trying to help people stay in language programs,” she said.
“And the fee is a way to discourage students from leaving.”
The new fees are designed to help Spanish-only language programs stay open, which are currently under threat.
The Department of Education last year closed a Spanish language program at a California high school, which had been run by an immigrant from Puerto Rico.
The state is considering closing more Spanish-Only schools, including in New York, New Jersey and Florida.
The Flu Vaccine Partnership, an advocacy group, said the move to impose the fees is “another step in a strategy to stop our community from reaching our potential.”
“If we are going to make it possible for all of our kids to continue to thrive, we need to ensure that we are not putting them in the position where they are leaving schools because they can’t afford it,” said Laura Paez, a spokeswoman for the Flu Vaccination Partnership.
“That’s why we are so concerned about this new directive.”