To the Editor:
Two New York City public schools have been selected by the French government to receive the newly created “FrancEducation label,” which recognizes their outstanding efforts to promote and develop French bilingual education.
These schools, PS 58 in Brooklyn and PS 84 in Manhattan, will join a select group of schools worldwide to receive this prestigious honor. The label is an official endorsement that will help them showcase their achievements and gain additional access to such resources as teacher-development programs, special grant programs, and partnership opportunities.
For me, this is especially good news as this officially recognizes the French bilingual revolution that has taken place in New York City and other urban centers over the past few years.
These schools’ commitment to dual-language teaching and learning is a considerable accomplishment amidst the widespread decline in the availability of foreign-language instruction in elementary and middle schools nationwide, especially in schools serving lower-socioeconomic-status families.
Hopefully, the label will encourage more involvement from education departments, schools, families, and community organizations in developing French bilingual programs in the United States. In New York alone, there are more than 300,000 Francophones, and fewer than 2,000 children are currently benefiting from a free French bilingual education.
Recent waves of immigrants from West Africa as well as from Haiti represent a significantly increased Francophone presence in New York and other urban centers. Combined with a significant demand from middle-class expatriate and American families for access to bilingual public elementary and middle school programs, these newer French-speaking communities can help mobilize support for bilingual school programs in French and English, programs that are so essential to the long-term survival of these bilingual communities.
New York University
New York, N.Y.
The writer is an education adviser for the French Embassy to the United States.
A version of this article appeared in the April 25, 2012 edition of Education Week as Need for French-English Bilingual Education Clear