The institutionalization of french in louisiana: history, successes,

The popular perspective that Louisiana French is reserved for the remote bayous and far-flung sugarcane fields and constitutes a purely oral language that evolved in isolation from the institutionalized Standard French found in the rest of the francophone world is simply not accurate. It may be true that most of the native speakers of Louisiana varieties of French today were raised in an environment where French literacy was rare and interactions with speakers from other parts of the francophone world were even rarer, but throughout most of the nearly 350 years of Louisiana’s history, which began with the arrival of the first Europeans at the mouth of the Mississippi in 1682, French has played an almost constantly significant role in one or more of the official institutions of the area. During the French colonial period, from 1682 to 1763, French was the official language of the two main institutions that governed the daily lives of people in Louisiana, the Roman Catholic Church and the French Crown. While the church as an institution may have had Latin as its official language, the vast majority of religious and priests who served in Louisiana came from New France (modern-day Canada) and France. As such, with the exception of saying Mass, most daily interactions of the church occurred in French. Yet “the early residents of this area would have found our distinction between political and religious matters strange and unintelligible. War, a business or marriage contract, and a baptismal ceremony were both sacred and secular” (Nolan 1976:XIX.). For example, in 1724 Louis XV issued an updated version of the Code Noir for the Louisiana colony that decreed that all residents, slave or free, had to be baptized and instructed in the Catholic faith, allowed a Catholic  126  Albert Camp marriage (with the permission of their masters if enslaved), and buried in a Catholic cemetery. These laws, though enforced to varying degrees, necessitated that the church work hand in hand with the Crown as an institution. Thus, when Louisiana shifted from an officially French colony to an officially Spanish one in 1763, the vital institution of the Louisiana Catholic Church remained mostly intact. According to Dubois, Leumas, and Richardson (2018:13), The idea of monolingual Spanish priests at the parish level in colonial Louisiana is absurd and against the Church practice of accommodation to reach the local populace. French priests were therefore needed and retained in the diocese for the transition in the 1760s and later. French and Spanish entries go back and forth in the parish registers. Parishioners’ signatures in Spanish in a Spanish register did not mean that a parishioner knew the language any more than he knew Latin when reciting Latin. Most obviously, Spanish priests had to know French in order to serve the native and incoming French Catholics. Furthermore, demographic shifts in the colony throughout the Spanish period increased rather than diminished the French language’s importance. Spanish immigration policy in colonial Louisiana generally sought not to replace the native French-speaking population but rather to increase the population by any means necessary. The Spanish inherited a colony that was massively underpopulated at approximately eleven thousand residents (Din 1998:12). Thus, immigrants from many different linguistic and cultural backgrounds were welcomed—as long as they were Catholic. Roughly twenty-six hundred French settlers in Acadia (modern-day Nova Scotia) who were expelled after the Treaty of 1763 ceded Canada to Britain made their way to Louisiana between 1765 and 1785 (Brasseaux 1990:1:xii). In contrast, the only major influx of Spanish immigrants involved fewer than two thousand people from the Canary Islands (Din 1988:15–25). Many other arrivals during this period sought to escape the growing unrest in France and Saint-Domingue (Haiti). This numerical discrepancy meant that French remained the language of daily life and business for most in Louisiana, including the church, which had even less motivation to replace the French language with Spanish than did the Spanish Crown. Even if the period of Spanish rule had little impact on the use of French and the second period of French rule was too brief to have any lasting effect, the Louisiana Purchase would be expected to have had a major effect on language use. Indeed it did, though not necessarily the effect that might be predicted. Most sources estimate Louisiana’s population at around 60,000 at the time of the Louisiana Purchase (1803). Most of that population would certainly have been Catholic and French-speaking (Dubois, Leumas, and Richardson 2018).  The Institutionalization of French in Louisiana 127 By 1810, the population had increased to 76,566 (Forstall 1996:4). However records show that the rebellion in the French colony of Saint-Domingue led to an influx of more than 10,000 French-speaking refugees (Lachance 1988:111). Anglo-American immigration also had a major impact on the linguistic landscape. Americans had been migrating to Louisiana since colonial times, but the level of immigration increased dramatically after the Louisiana Purchase and statehood in 1812. In 1820, the state’s population had nearly doubled, reaching 153,407 (Forstall 1996:4). Although the pace of growth did slow, the population continued to increase steadily throughout the decades with immigration from other parts of America as well as other parts of the world. Nevertheless, Louisiana remained a destination of choice for tens of thousands of French immigrants, particularly during that country’s early nineteenth-century political turmoil (Brasseaux 1990). Despite the Americanization of Louisiana, French enjoyed a privileged status in business and politics, de facto at first and then de jure. However, ideological views about the link between speaking English and being American significantly affected antebellum language use, and political considerations fundamentally changed the legal status of French in the Reconstruction period. Yet one Louisiana institution continued to use and even indirectly to promote French throughout the nineteenth century. The Catholic Church continued to offer French a level of institutional legitimacy. Although the Catholic Church lost its status as a legal authority after the colonial era, the fact that the vast majority of the state’s population followed the faith meant that its institutional place in Louisianans’ lives continued. Every important event in the life of a Catholic involves not only a church ceremony but also an official written record of the event. So from an infant’s baptism to an individual’s marriage and eventual death, the institution of the church both participates in and records the event in a particular language. Studies have shown that Catholic Church registers in south Louisiana continued to use French well into the twentieth century, with a median date of 1916 for the shift to English (Dubois, Leumas, and Richardson 2007). Throughout the nineteenth century, the Church in Louisiana was dominated by priests and bishops from France, and well into the twentieth century, the major life events of people in south Louisiana were conducted in and recorded in the more standardized European French of these priests. One rough estimate puts the number of Catholics in south Louisiana at 75 percent of the population between 1906 and 1916 (Dubois, Leumas, and Richardson 2018:137). Standard varieties of French thus remained a part of Louisiana institutions into the early twentieth century. Demographic, political, and ideological pressure unfortunately ensured that by the mid-1900s, neither state institutions nor the Catholic Church continued to use French in an official capacity. Though Census data are not very specific or  128  Albert Camp reliable, Louisiana appears to have had at least a few hundred thousand French speakers in 1940. In 1968, the state government gave French an institutional status by creating the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana (CODOFIL) to revitalize the language. Nevertheless, current estimates put the French-speaking population somewhere between one hundred thousand and two hundred thousand, and most of these people are elderly. This chapter evaluates the institutionalization of language revitalization efforts in Louisiana and the ways in which ideological and political considerations have affected the role of public education in Louisiana’s French revitalization movement. THE ROLE OF THE STATE IN FRENCH REVITALIZATION The legal status of French in the state of Louisiana has had a rather mixed history. The first Louisiana Constitution (1812) required that all laws be written and disseminated in English. However, this clause was inserted only to appease the US Congress, which had previously mandated that all legal affairs in the Territory of Orleans be written in English (Ward 1997). In reality, all acts of the Louisiana legislature were recorded and promulgated in French and English from 1812 to 1867. The Reconstructionist Louisiana Constitution of 1868 forbade any laws requiring judicial processes from being made available in a language other than English and required that free public education for all be offered only in English (Ward 1997). The Louisiana Constitution of 1879 restored the legal status of French by requiring the promulgation of laws in French and allowing public schools to use the language. By this time, however, the French language had already begun to develop a pariah status, and the 1921 Louisiana Constitution again removed all references to the French language and required English-only education (Ward 1997). Finally, in 1968, one hundred years after Louisiana law first removed French from state institutions, Act 409 of the Louisiana legislature restored the language’s legal institutional status and created CODOFIL A to “do any and all things necessary to accomplish the development, utilization, and preservation of the French language as found in Louisiana for the cultural, economic and touristic benefit of the state” (Act 409, sect. 1). Act 408, also passed in 1968, required Louisiana children to learn French for a number of years. These laws and CODOFIL owe their existence to a populist movement known as the Cajun Renaissance that had been taking place in Louisiana for at least a decade. Social activists, musicians, and politicians such as Dudley LeBlanc had been organizing public events to promote Cajun heritage, ethnicity, and language. The 1960s also saw a change in public attitudes toward Louisiana’s French-speaking population, though it is unclear whether this change was a  The Institutionalization of French in Louisiana 129 cause or effect of the Cajun Renaissance. The laws essentially constituted a reaction to the Cajun Renaissance and the realization that Louisiana’s Frenchspeaking population was disappearing rapidly. By requiring “preservation” of the French language, the Louisiana legislature signaled its acknowledgment that institutional intervention was needed to slow or reverse the language shift away from French. Loopholes in Act 408 meant that it was completely unenforceable: schools and parents could simply request and receive exemption from the law. In 1972, only ninety-five schools in twenty parishes had French programs (Henry 1997:192). In 1975, the legislature repealed Act 408 and passed Act 714, which allowed parishes to establish their own second-language programs, provided state funding for these programs, and allowed parents to request that schools offer particular second-language programs. This law met with some success, and by 1977, thirty-six parishes were providing French-language education to 42,644 students (Henry 1997:193). In 1985, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education mandated second-language education for students from the fourth to eighth grade (Egéa-Kuehne 2006:121). This mandate had an important impact on CODOFIL’s role in French education. James Domengeaux, CODOFIL’s first director, met with French president Georges Pompidou in 1969, and the Louisiana Department of Education subsequently signed formal accords with the French government and later with the governments of Belgium and Quebec (Egéa-Kuehne 2006:123). CODOFIL created the Foreign Associate Teacher (FAT) program to bring French teachers from other French-speaking countries into Louisiana’s public schools. While the state still had a sizable population of French speakers in the 1960s and 1970s, very few were qualified to teach, and for more than a decade, most of Louisiana’s French teachers came from other countries via this program. However, the 1985 Board of Elementary and Secondary Education mandate to provide second-language education in all schools would changed this dynamic. Because the board placed responsibility for implementing second-language education on local school boards in the 1980s, the model of a centralized supply of French teachers changed. Second-language education programs began to look more and more like their equivalent programs in other states that do not have an organization like CODOFIL. Schools began to advertise job openings and conduct interviews with eligible candidates. This new system led to a significant increase in the number of students studying French as a second language. Whereas 95 schools offered French in 1972, that number had risen to 536 schools offering French to 77,924 students in the 1991–92 school year (Henry 1997:193). However, since then the number of students studying French has actually decreased. A 2010 report by the French Education Project at Louisiana State University found only 56,454 students studying any foreign language  130  Albert Camp in the 2009–10 school year (Egéa-Kuehne 2010). Of those students, only 31,468 were studying French, and most of the others were studying Spanish. With schools less dependent on CODOFIL to supply foreign-language teachers in the 1980s, the agency shifted its focus to French immersion education. Unlike traditional foreign-language instruction, students in French immersion schools not only study French as a language but also learn other subjects such as science, math, and social studies in French. Following a Canadian trend, French immersion programs and entire schools were founded throughout south Louisiana with CODOFIL’s assistance. By the second decade of the twenty-first century, the United States had 114 French immersion programs, 28 of them in Louisiana, more than any other state (Center for Applied Linguistics 2011). CODOFIL is largely responsible for the success and rapid growth of French immersion programs in Louisiana, which have become the agency’s main focus. Although CODOFIL provides some funding and support for other programs, the organization primarily serves as an intermediary between immersion programs and the foreign governments whose citizens constitute most of the French immersion teachers. Until recently, school principals had to request the creation of immersion programs, with permission dependent on local school boards, which often denied these requests for various reasons. In some areas, immersion magnet programs have been used as a tool for desegregation (Beal 2008), while at other times, these programs placed a cohort of high-performing children in an underprivileged school to artificially boost its overall test scores (Tornquist 2000:96). These behaviors not only pose ethical questions but create unnecessary barriers to CODOFIL’s legally defined mission and to everyone involved in the French revitalization movement. In 2013, Act 361, the Immersion School Choice Act, began requiring any school that receives a written request from the guardians of at least twentyfive kindergarten children to form an immersion program beginning with the school year 2014–15. It is not yet clear whether this change will increase the availability of French immersion education. However, CODOFIL is actively working to encourage parents to request immersion programs. According to CODOFIL, most “teachers of French are Louisiana natives, thanks largely to the efforts of CODOFIL and the state’s educational system. Today, almost 100,000 students across Louisiana study French, and there are 26 French immersion schools in eight parishes” (CODOFIL n.d.b). While these numbers appear misleading given that CODOFIL now focuses almost exclusively on immersion schools where the overwhelming majority of teachers are foreign, these statements clearly reflect the ideological views that the agency seeks to promote. CODOFIL wants the people of Louisiana to believe that  The Institutionalization of French in Louisiana 131 French immersion education leads to economic opportunities. Clearly, becoming a French teacher is an economic opportunity. CODOFIL’s 2014 annual report includes nine goals for fiscal year 2015: 1. Consolidate all recent CODOFIL legislative mandates into several clusters of public-private “spheres of activity” for more efficient development of best practices that may be duplicated for the benefit of Louisiana stakeholders at large. 1. [sic] Increase number of Louisiana teachers of French. 2. Engage youth. Assure that a minimum of 12% of the products of French Immersion (former students) are actively engaged in “living, working and playing” in French in Louisiana. 3. Grow career paths through French, especially in tourism. 4. Develop a program for articulating Louisiana French to military communities. 5. Increase number of scholarships. 6. Improve Louisiana’s standing with the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. 8. Increase presence of Louisiana French in the media. (CODOFIL 2014:6) The goals of increasing the number of Louisiana teachers of French, assuring 12 percent of immersion students “work” in French, and growing career paths offer significant insight into CODOFIL’s linguistic ideology. While more and more Americans and specifically Louisianans have been hired to teach French as a second language in Louisiana, teaching in French immersion schools remains a largely foreign job. In the 2008–9 school year, the Louisiana Department of Education reported that 125 of the state’s 160 immersion teachers were participants in the FAT program (Barnett 2010:32). However, even those 35 teachers who were not currently members of the program might have previously participated but now had permanent visa status (32). My research in Louisiana’s French immersion schools has found that it is common for participants in the FAT program to change their visa status and remain, whether through marriage to an American or through some other means. Among administrators from eight immersion schools throughout south Louisiana, only one remembered having an American work in their French immersion program. Thus, although CODOFIL and grassroots organizations focus primarily on French immersion schools as a means of revitalizing French in Louisiana, Louisianans are largely excluded from working there. Despite their immense success in helping students learn French, the immersion schools have been hindered by ideological and institutional hurdles. 132  Albert Camp LINGUISTIC IDEOLOGY AND FRENCH IMMERSION SCHOOLS CODOFIL was born out of the so-called Cajun Renaissance, and its purpose was and still is to prevent the decline of French in Louisiana and hopefully revitalize it. The fact that the state of Louisiana has had a government agency devoted to the revitalization of French for more than fifty years indicates a level of support for this minority language that is probably unparalleled in any other state. Nevertheless, ideological hurdles continue to stall the progress that French immersion schools might make toward that revitalization. As one linguist said, “Linguistic revitalization starts first at the psycholinguistic level, that is to say at the level of linguistic representations, for speakers (or semispeakers or passive speakers), language experts, and educators” (Ryon 2002:282–83). These ideological perspectives have a concrete influence on the planning and practice of language revitalization. In the words of Albert Valdman (1998:290), “The choice of objectives for the teaching of foreign languages in schools and universities depends to a large extent on the interested parties: the political powers, the various community representatives, the educational administration, and the students themselves.” Many studies of language attitudes in Louisiana have focused on the variety of French used in schools and particularly on the choice to use a standardized version of international French rather than a more local vernacular such as the Cajun or Creole varieties. While this debate may have had some impact on parents’ and communities’ decisions in the early years of CODOFIL’s existence, the use of standardized international French remains the only realistic option for immersion schools. However, the crucial ideological question for French immersion schools and the French revitalization movement as a whole is why these children should learn French at all. French immersion schools definitely have a place in CODOFIL’s mission to “accomplish the development, utilization, and preservation” of French. Yet the reasons why teachers and administrators participate in expanding French education have remained far less clear until recently. For example, the reasons why Louisianans decide to become French teachers may have nothing to do with language revitalization. Similarly, the school administrators who run these programs may not see themselves as part of a revitalization movement. The ideology of those working toward language revitalization will have a profound impact on the success or failure of the revitalization movement. Traditionally, Louisianans who wanted to become French teachers first needed to acquire the requisite education and legal certification. In 2014, I conducted a study of undergraduate students at south Louisiana’s four largest universities—McNeese State University, Louisiana State University, Tulane  The Institutionalization of French in Louisiana 133 University, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. I asked faculty to identify every student majoring or minoring in French who was planning to become a French teacher and would be graduating within two years. Only ten students—all at Tulane or Louisiana State—met these criteria. I interviewed nine of them, created a sociobiographic profiles for each of them, and explored their linguistic ideologies. All were white, and seven were female. All came from relatively high socioeconomic classes and had at least one parent with a college degree, characteristics that reflect the general demographics of these two universities. However, only about half of the interviewees had parents from Louisiana, and only one had any familial connection to Louisiana’s French-speaking population (Camp 2015:78). If this sample is consistent with the general population of Louisiana’s future French teachers, then it would suggest that the children and grandchildren of Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole French speakers are not generally interested in teaching French. Eight of the nine students were either open to or preferred the idea of teaching in French immersion schools; the only exception was the one student who had Cajun French–speaking family, who did not believe that her French was fluent enough. All of them wanted to teach simply because they liked French and liked teaching. Thus, while almost all of them would be happy to work in a French immersion school, none were motivated by a desire to revitalize French (Camp 2015:82). I also interviewed nine administrators from immersion schools throughout south Louisiana to compile sociobiographic and ideological profiles that could be compared with those of the students. Five of the nine administrators were white females, two were black females, and two were white males. Unlike the students, these administrators generally came from lower socioeconomic classes, and only one had college-educated parents (Camp 2015:88). In addition, eight of the nine administrators claimed to be ethnically Cajun, Creole, or French, the same number that had French-speaking family (89–90). Paradoxically, only two of the administrators spoke French, and all ended up administering immersion programs by chance rather than by desire. If this sample of administrators is typical as well, then neither Louisianans who run immersion programs nor those who desire to teach in them do so for reasons that mesh with because they hope to achieve CODOFIL’s mission to “accomplish the development, utilization, and preservation” of French. From an ideological standpoint, both groups either supported or were ambivalent to the idea of the state government working to revitalize French. The aspiring teachers who generally lacked a familial connection to Louisiana French believed that preserving and promoting Louisiana’s French heritage  134  Albert Camp constituted the main benefit of French education. The administrators tended to be more practical, seeing cognitive benefits, job opportunities, and economic benefits as the main advantages. Consequently, the administrators also tended to see any second language, not particularly French, as equally beneficial for Louisiana students (Camp 2015). The linguistic ideology of these administrators seems to mirror CODOFIL’s goals, which, in turn, mirror its leaders’ ideological positions. CODOFIL leaders have described the long-term goals of the immersion programs as “critical to the revitalization of French in Louisiana. Not only can the immersion help to create a population identifying with French, it also improves education and creates pathways to careers for students” (Haskins 2015:32–33). In addition, the administrators claim that “parents and students see the benefits of bilingualism and aren’t necessarily participating for the Louisiana French aspect. . . . [P]arents of current immersion students are younger than the parents of immersion students when the programs were created and they’re less concerned with the emphasis on Louisiana French” (33). Based on her interviews with CODOFIL officials, researcher Meredith Haskins believes that “the focus is more on a diverse and global approach that promotes functional bilingualism and enhances employment opportunities outside of Louisiana than an actual attempt at revitalizing Louisiana French varieties” (35). THE CURRENT STATUS OF LOUISIANA’S FRENCH IMMERSION SCHOOLS AND ESCADRILLE LOUISIANE As of 2016, Louisiana’s public schools had twenty-nine French immersion programs. Almost all of the teachers in these French immersion programs either are or were participants in the FAT program. According to Brian Barnett’s (2010:83) survey, only seven of eighty-five French immersion teachers in Louisiana public schools were native-born Americans, and only four were from Louisiana. Despite CODOFIL’s emphasis on the economic and job opportunities that learning French can provide, these immersion school teacher jobs have not traditionally been available for Louisianans. Today, institutional legal hurdles stand in the way of Americans who want to teach in French immersion schools. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education requires school districts to hire, with priority, all qualified Louisiana teachers to teach French or in French immersion schools (Egea-Kuehne 2006:10). Only then can schools hire FATs provided by CODOFIL. Yet, for many years, schools have had a financial incentive to hire FATs rather than American teachers. Multiple immersion school principals told me that they would prefer to have immersion teachers  The Institutionalization of French in Louisiana 135 from Louisiana, but hiring them rather than FATs would be foolish because the schools would lose money: the Louisiana legislature contributes twenty thousand dollars to offset the cost of each FAT’s salary. Teachers in French immersion programs are paid the same state-mandated salaries as any other teacher in a particular area. During the 2014 regular session, the Louisiana Senate adopted Concurrent Resolution 55, which provides: Any city, parish, or other public school system or school employing a Foreign Language Associate or a graduate of the Escadrille Louisiane program shall receive a supplemental allocation from State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education of $21,000 per teacher. The state shall maintain support of the Foreign Language Associate program at a maximum of 300 Foreign Language Associates employed in any given year. These teachers shall be paid by the employing city, parish, or other local public school system or school at least the state average classroom teacher salary. . . . Of the $21,000 allocation, $20,000 shall be allocated to the school where the teacher is employed and the funds used to support the total cost of the teacher salary, and the remaining amount shall be associated with costs of VISA sponsorship pursuant to State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education regulations. (Appel 2014) No doubt, these allocations were originally intended to provide schools with an incentive to open language immersion programs that might otherwise be seen as too costly. Until recently, any Americans who might have wanted to work in immersion schools would have to overcome the financial incentives not to hire them. Although there appeared to be no evidence that a Louisianan had ever been denied a job for this reason, the situation remained problematic. However, to address this problem and the general lack of Louisianans teaching French immersion, CODOFIL and the French government partnered in 2011 to create the Escadrille Louisiane (Louisiana Squadron) program. The name is a reference to two hundred Louisiana pilots who flew planes for the French army in World War I, and the program seeks to train two hundred Louisianans to teach in French immersion schools over the next twenty years by sending them to study in France. Students from Louisiana would spend a year working in France as English teachers through the French government’s long-established TAPIF program. In addition, students would also take classes at the University of Rennes, credits that would apply toward a master’s degree in teaching and teacher certification from Shreveport’s Centenary College. In exchange for grants and stipends that cover their education and expenses, Escadrille Louisiane graduates will be asked to commit to teaching in Louisiana  136  Albert Camp French immersion schools for at least three years. Schools that hire graduates of the Escadrille program are entitled to the same twenty-thousand-dollar supplemental allocation as schools that hire FATs. In theory, this seems like a practical solution to the lack of Louisiana French immersion teachers. In practice, however, one immersion school administrator confided in 2014 that it was impossible to find American teachers with the necessary fluency and certification in a second subject to work in an immersion program. The idea of Escadrille is that a year in France would provide Louisianans the necessary fluency, and their degree from Centenary College would provide them the necessary certifications. CODOFIL had sought to have ten students per year participate in the Escadrille program(Haskins 2015:31), but low enrollment has been a problem, as table 9.1 shows. While CODOFIL has yet to achieve its goal of ten students per year returning to teach French immersion, the numbers are improving significantly. After six years, Escadrille Louisiane has produced only twelve French immersion teachers, but that number may actually represent more actual Louisianan French immersion teachers than ever before. One of the problems with all of these numbers is deciding who qualifies as a Louisianan, since Louisiana issues no passports and does not actually have citizens, only residents. Even if this pattern continues, it will be quite some time before Louisianans comprise a significant number of French immersion teachers. Enrollment in the Escadrille program may be hindered by its location. After the year in France, students must spend two more years at Centenary College in Shreveport, a small private Methodist College that is three to five hours away from most of Louisiana’s French immersion schools. Since most south Louisiana students who wish to become French teachers attend Louisiana State University or Tulane, a program based geographically closer to students’ homes might be more attractive. Table 9.1. Escadrille Louisiane Enrollment and Placement, 2011–2018 Iteration Enrolled Teaching Immersion Teaching French as Foreign Language Not Teaching French 1 (2011–13) 6 0 3 3 2 (2012–14) 7 0 3 4 3 (2013–15) 6 1 1 4 4 (2014–16) 3 1 0 2 5 (2015–17) 8 3 3 2 6 (2016–18) 9 7 7 2 Source: Rodriguez 2019 The Institutionalization of French in Louisiana 137 According to two CODOFIL employees, “even if the number of native Louisiana French speakers were to increase, . . . they would not ever completely replace the foreign associate teachers . . . for several reasons.” First, CODOFIL has “establish[ed] good working relationships with educational organizations in francophone countries due to the hiring of foreign associate teachers.” Second, FATs have the “ability to offer a cultural mix” that benefits students, who “learn more than if they were learning from teachers who all came from the same place.” These administrators believe “that a better balance between Louisiana teachers and foreign associate teachers would be ideal” (Haskins 2015:30–32). Thus, the Escadrille Louisiane program clearly does not seek to replace the FATs in French immersion programs but rather is geared toward redressing the extreme imbalance that has existed for some time. It is difficult to assess what progress has resulted from CODOFIL’s creation half a century ago and from the funds that the state has directed toward the agency’s efforts to preserve and promote French. According to a well-known CODOFIL slogan, usually attributed to its first president, James Domengeaux, “The schools destroyed French; the schools must restore it.” There are certainly many more Louisiana students studying French today than there were fifty years ago. However, it is unclear what level of fluency they generally achieve. Those who go through elementary and/or middle school French immersion programs undoubtedly achieve a relatively high level of fluency by necessity: as of 2014, forty-five hundred students were enrolled in French immersion and about twenty thousand adults had graduated from immersion programs (Haskins 2015:34), meaning that CODOFIL had increased the population of people who speak at least semifluent French by nearly twenty-five thousand. However, Louisiana has probably lost more than five times as many elderly French speakers in the past twenty years. Numbers thus are probably not the best measure of success or failure for CODOFIL and the French revitalization movement in general. The fact that Louisiana has a government institution devoted to promoting and preserving French is a unique and important achievement. To ensure the continued success of the French revitalization movement and particularly CODOFIL, greater efforts need to be made to remove the institutional and ideological hurdles that prevent Louisianans from engaging with French immersion schools. One administrator at a French immersion school informed me that “all of our teachers are native speakers; we would not hire an American with a degree in that language.” Being American and speaking French—or any language other than English—must no longer be seen as contradictory. The administrator also said, “Every day they sing a patriotic song, even though this is a school that focuses on other languages, we want  138  Albert Camp the children to understand their heritage and be proud of being American.” Such a linguistic ideology, pervasive in Louisiana, truly hinders the French revitalization movement. While changing people’s attitudes may be difficult, eliminating institutional hurdles should be more straightforward. To put more Louisianans in French immersion classrooms, the Escadrille Louisiane program must increase its numbers. Perhaps the program needs to be moved or expanded to include other university partners or simply needs to be better advertised. Changing the laws so that hiring an American who did not go through Escadrille would not cost a school twenty thousand dollars might also help if other pathways to gaining French fluency and certification can be opened. CODOFIL’s existence is a noteworthy achievement, but French must occupy an expanded place in other Louisiana institutions if it is to survive.

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