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Hartsbrook School Hadley, MA


French classes removed from curriculum

French classes are slated to be cancelled this year for the first through sixth grades. Many of us have been lobbying to have our French classes continued. French classes will also be cancelled for the ninth grade. One ninth grade student has been gathering signatures to have French classes continued. Sign the petition here.

More to follow. We will try to verify the facts. In the meantime read the petition and its comments.

Getting ripped off on language

What parents are saying:    "This isn't what we signed up for."   "We're getting the run around."    "I feel betrayed."    "If they wanted to make it look like everyone was consulted while only holding discussions with a hand picked few they did a good job of it."    "I am livid!"    "This is not the example I want to see set for our children on keeping your word and how to deal fairly with people."

One parent summarized the switch like this:    "It's a bit like getting on a plane to Japan then halfway there the crew announces they changed their minds and are headed for New Zealand. When you complain they say 'Sorry you don't get a vote. We are in charge not you. And by the way we posted a notice three hours after we took off saying there would be a meeting about the future of the airline industry.' Why didn't the topic of the meeting reflect what it was really about? Even if there had been a vote or a meeting they sold us tickets to Japan. Talking about it and considering the options doesn't change that the only right thing to do is to take us there."

Bait and switch

We all had the same experience. When we were making our choice to enroll in the Hartsbrook School we were told that French would continue right up through senior year of high school. After just a few years of French —far more for some of us— we are hit with the bait and switch. Some of us have relatives abroad. Others of us wished our children to be able to speak the language of our nearest foreign country. We see the importance of having our children able to read the works of philosophers, poets and authors in the original language which most often is French. French is the language of diplomats and is very important for world peace. Spanish is a useful language to offer and it could be offered for future classes. Interrupting what is already being studied makes no sense. We just don't want our children to have to change course halfway through. They should be allowed to finish the course of study we signed up for.

The way the school has handled this has been horrid:

  • They are now telling us they have to cut French for financial reasons. Why wasn't that a concern before they started a third language? Isn't it a concern that families are leaving the school over this or that those families won't be donating in future years.
  • The school is pushing to be more collaborative while with this there was no systematic reaching out to parents. For the meetings that were held sometimes the notice was emailed only a night or two before and did not mention canceling programs or French. While the school hands out flyers to everyone for music events, summer camping and other events nothing like that happened for this far more important topic. There was never even a Friday coffee discussion on this topic. The school reached out to interview alumni but not the parents who they made a commitment to and who had something at stake. As a result much of the parent and student body was unaware of what was really going on or even that something was going on at all.
  • The parents and students were never polled which would have been easy to do. The school "didn't want families to think they had a vote." In one way it should not have been a vote since the school already committed to this when we enrolled.
  • All bulletin notices from the World Language Committee mentioned the change for 6th Grade and down, but stated that High School students would be able to continue to maintain French. More will be written on the high school program in future posts.

The Cover-up

We had an email forwarded to us about the language program. We never would have seen it since the subject was for a concert and not about French. The reports are that this email is only about the usual having the appearance of communicating what was already decided. The school wants to do what it wants and will do anything to keep parents and teachers from having a say. The handling of this had already decided us to take our children out before high school. This email has us wondering if we want to even stay through eighth grade.  This email showed us all the school wants is to cover it all up. Most of what we have heard is in the table.

- no title specified


Hartsbrook Claims



This was published in bulletin.


Nothing warned French could be discontinued until after it was decided. Even then the cancellation of French was hidden in a link to another document. A great number of parents had no idea what was going on even at the end of the school year except for those who had met to push Spanish and those hand picked by the committee.

You can enter into dialog with the school.


The school has told parents “If you disagree with the school you should go somewhere else.”

Parents are fearful of losing financial aid if they speak up.

Parents who have had dialogs on more serious issues have had no resolution and found the school blames the child and scapegoats the parent for gross misconduct by faculty.

The committee interviewed:

  • other schools 

  • alumnae 

  • “only a small number of parents” 


Who they did not interview:

  • students currently taking the language 

  • the majority of the parents 

According to other faculty the school refused multiple offers to poll and inform parents saying “We don't want parents to think they have a vote.”

The preponderance of the small number of parents in attendance voiced strong support for Spanish  


Since the school refused to inform parents French was due to be cut no one was there to give the majority opinion.  Again they avoided asking those who had their education at stake.

Budget limitations caused French to be cancelled.


The school returned a $25,000 grant for the continuation of French at Hartsbrook. No budget limitations kept Spanish from being introduced.

We have to have both Germanic and Romance languages.  This prepares students for meaningful exchange.


German has been the language to be cut in some other Waldorf high schools.  Children no longer being able to exchange to a great deal of Europe and Africa has lead many of us to chose to exit Hartsbrook before high school.

Small high school class sizes is the reason to cut French.


In the freshman class only one student had signed up for German so a week long program took place instead of classes to try to convert students to this unpopular course. According to the petition French by far the most desired class by high school students. One freshman student still has French classes.

The process could have been clearer about soliciting feedback for French in particular.


The school refused at least four offers from parents and faculty to create an online poll and hand out fliers. Cleary they wanted parents kept in the dark.


This site was started to help parents hear the story that isn't being told. Do you have something to share?