UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — The New York City Department of Education will launch French dual-language education programs at an Upper East Side pre-k facility to promote bilingual education at an early age, local City Councilman Ben Kallos announced Wednesday.
Two French dual-language pre-k classes will open for the 2020-2021 school year at the recently-opened East 76th Street and First Avenue pre-k center, Kallos said. The local lawmaker urged city education officials to launch the dual-language program by holding two community meetings with education officials and French-speaking families in December and March where 200 families signed a petition in favor of the programs.
New York City families have until March 16 to apply for pre-k for all programs. Families that have already applied can update their applications to include the French dual-language program by searching for the program code 02Z128 on the DOE's "MySchools" website.
"I hear so many languages spoken in my district from every corner of the world and now we are working with the Francophone community to address a need in the neighborhood as we hope to increase the overall diversity of our schools," Kallos said in a statement.
Children enrolled in dual-language classes will be taught their curriculum in both languages by two certified early childhood teachers, one who is a fluent French speaker. Students in these classes are born into families that speak languages other than English in the home. Dual-language programs can promote bilingual education and provide students with a greater connection to and appreciation for their family's native language and culture.
The French dual-language program at the East 76th Street pre-k center will be the first of its kind for the Department of Education's second district, which includes most of Lower Manhattan, Midtown and the Upper East Side.
"The parents of this community had a vision and a desire for bilingual education for their children. The establishment of this Dual Language French UPK program is the culmination of two years of groundwork, involving over 150 families in New York City coming from countries all around the world, interested in having their children learn French," Stephane Lautner, a local parent involved in organizing for the program, said.
The East 76th Street school facility added 180 pre-k seats to the Upper East Side starting in the 2019-2020 school year. The Upper East Side has added pre-k seats each of the past five school years and now has a capacity of 1,122 seats compared to just 154 in 2014, according to city officials.