Spirikal’s bottom line: Across the country as well as New York City, departments of education have been cutting school budgets and all but eliminating foreign language programs in favor of boosting standardized testing for English and Math. Bilingual education is one major exception thanks in part to the French, parents and other communities for fighting back. And for both parents and job seekers trolling for good schools, this is one event worth checking out.
For me, however, I turned up for three reasons: 1.) to write about the fair and 2.) to scout out some bilingual educators who could come talk to my students about career options and 3.) sniff out some French books for my school libary.
My only regret, and much to the delight of my GP, is missing the free pastry cart floating around the expo, serving up generous portions of cheesecake and tarts. Shit.
Regrets aside, I was amazed at how many bilingual schools and programs are sprouted up. Last year, there were only two schools in Brooklyn and now they’re seven. And it’s not only private and charter schools, many public, (yes public), schools are moving forward with their own bilingual ambitions.
Many of these schools divide half the instruction in English and the other in French. This wasn’t only limited to the language of Voltaire either. I met reps from several schools that had programs for Spanish, German, Italian, Russian and Mandarin. Now, seriously how cool is that?
They were stalls everwhere with schools, sponsors, book suppliers and educational companies and organizations showcasing what they got. Of course, there was the Alliance Française (FIAF) and private schools offering the IB or starting an IB program such as: UNIS – The UN School and FASNY. And the Lyceum Kennedy, another French-American School along with charter school NYFACS the omnipresent Lycée français of New York were also in attendance.
It wasn’t only charters and private schools. Happily and because I’m a public school teacher, a number of public schools also showed off their bilingual muscles, including.PS 84, PS 110, PS 3, MS 256. For the complete list of public bilingual ed schools in NYC, check it out here.
I met up with my friend, Fabrice Jaumont, who is the godfather of all things bilingual ed in New York. I don’t think there’s an educator, administrator or parent working in this field who doesn’t know him, unless they’ve been in a coma for 20 years.
With Fabrice’s help the French and NYCDOE have collaborated in setting up mainly elementary and junior high schools, but now, they’re moving up to creating French-English bilingual pubic high schools and expanding in Queens and the Bronx. I don’t know if Fabrice will kill me for spilling the beans, but his team are looking to create New York’s first ever French-English Bilingual IB school. It’d be the first of its kind.
Historically highly trained in grassroots warefare, the French are arming parents with this kit that outlines the steps anyone can follow to start a French bilingual program in the neighborhood school. If your child’s school principal still thinks that 33 countries, where French is either the official or secondary language, is not enough to create a French progam, Education in French of New York provides after school immersion-style instruction including staff to help your kids get up to speed with their français. For more inquiries or to make donations: visit Face Foundation. For a complete list of participants of the fair visit: NY 2015 Bilingual fair