On October 2, I was thrilled to join Council Member Ben Kallos, French Consul Jérémie Robert, Community Education Council President Maud Maron, parents, teachers, and school administrators for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate two new French dual language classes that have opened at the District 2 Pre-K Center located at 355 East 76th Street in Manhattan. The joyous occasion for the families who attended the ribbon cutting and for all supporters comes after a very dedicated group of parents, including members of the Francophone community from Canada, Africa, and France, met with more than two hundred families who pledged to send their children to a French dual language program in Manhattan if one was created. I particularly congratulate the incredible efforts put forth by parents such as Stéphane Lautner, Catherine Rémy, and Nadia Levy who have kept the torch of the Bilingual Revolution burning in Manhattan even during these tough times. The French dual language classes began on September 21st with seats for 36 pre-K students. The Department of Education will operate these classes using a side-by-side instructional model where it will have one Early Childhood-certified teacher who is fluent in French and who has or will work towards a bilingual extension, alongside a second Early Childhood-certified teacher.
Here are quotes from some of the participants as well as a news report and additional photos and links.
“I am incredibly proud of the people who did the work in order to make this program a reality. Knowledge is power so any opportunity we get to expand and improve education in my district I will be supportive of. We all know the benefits of dual language education and I am proud that we were able to bring them to this district,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack for his ongoing partnership in expanding early education opportunities, the French Consulate for supporting the Francophone community, and especially to Stephane Lautner and Catherine Remy who worked closely with my office to put meetings together and organize hundreds of other parents.”
“We’re thrilled to provide our youngest learners with another new Pre-K Dual Language program, which will prepare them to succeed in our diverse, multilingual world. With over 100 Dual Language Pre-K programs in 10 languages across the five boroughs, we continue to celebrate the multiculturism that makes up New York City and enriches all students’ learning,” said Josh Wallack Deputy Chancellor, Division of Early Childhood Education and Student Enrollment.
“This new French Dual Language is an amazing opportunity for New Yorkers to immerse into a new language, regardless of their personal background. It’s also a key to integration for francophone families. This program embraces all the cultural diversity of New York City,” said Jérémie Robert.Consul General of France in New York.
“Being bilingual is an undeniable advantage in today’s increasingly globalized world. The study of two languages has been found to increase creativity and cultural awareness, making it an invaluable asset for our multicultural society. That it can be offered to more young children in our public schools is a gift that will keep on giving.” said Fabrice Jaumont, PhD. Education Attaché of the Embassy of France and Author of The Bilingual Revolution.
“The opening of this bilingual program represents the culmination of two years of efforts to demonstrate the demand in the community. Our waitlist of over 100 students, coming from throughout Manhattan, speaks volumes about the need for such programs. We believe in public education as a common good to serve our communities. Bilingual public education programs help children and communities maintain links to culture, heritage, and identity,” said Stephane Lautner, parent organizer and local resident. “This program is a first step towards creating a new K-5/8 pathway for children interested in learning or maintaining a second language. We look forward to continuing this work in collaboration with our partners in the Department of Education, City Council, and Community Education Council.”
Related article Bilingual Revolution in Manhattan
“Constructing an identity through two languages and two cultures is a challenge that parents and bilingual kids can now take up more easily here in New York City District 2. As a believer in Public Schools, I am proud of this program and the diverse community that it has brought together,” said Catherine Remy parent organizer and local resident.
“When I brought my daughter to her first in-person day at our new East 76th street French dual language pre-k, I felt pure joy. That feeling came from knowing that anyone in the community will be able to have access to this program and that parents can finally offer their children a public French dual language education. I hope this is a stepping stone for the creation of other public dual language programs, as I firmly believe that bilingualism/multilingualism is a benefit to our children,” said Nadia Levy parent organizer and local resident.
“The parents who came together to advocate for this program were passionate and dedicated—and their hard work paid off for all the children who are now enrolled and for future children who will benefit from this program. I look forward to working with CM Kallos, the superintendent and the parents to find an elementary school to continue the French DL program in D2,” said Community Education Council 2 President Maud Maron.
Families interested in learning more about pre-K admissions and receiving notification when the pre-K application opens for the 2021-22 school year can visit nyc.gov/prek.