French Dual Language Program Celebrates Start on the Upper East Side with 36 Pre-K Seats
Ribbon Cut after Partnership with Local Parents, the Department of Education and Council Member Kallos Yields Results
Upper East Side, NY- Today Council Member Ben Kallos, the New York City Department of Education, parents, teachers, school administrators and the French Consulate General to New York cut a ribbon celebrating two new French dual language classes that have opened at the District 2 Pre-K Center located at 355 East 76th Street.
The joyous occasion for the families who attended the ribbon cutting and for Council Member Kallos 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.
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.
“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.”
“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.
In order to get this program started on December 13, 2019, Council Member Kallos joined Community Education District Superintendent Donalda Chumney in a meeting with dozens of parents Stanley Isaacs Center. Following the meeting Council Member Kallos worked with organizers to host a petition when more than 200 parents pledged to send their children to a French dual language program. When Council Member Kallos shared the results of the petition, the Department of Education met with the Francophone community, held again at Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center on Tuesday, March 3rd. The meeting was led by Council Member Ben Kallos, Deputy Chancellor of the Division of Early Childhood Education and Student Enrollment Josh Wallack, the Education Attaché of the Embassy of France Fabrice Jaumont, Community Education District 2 President Maud Maron, and Stephane Lautner with attendance by the Executive Superintendent for Manhattan Marisol Rosales and Community Education District 2 Superintendent Donalda Chumney. At the March 3rd meeting French speaking parents from New York City, Canada, Africa, and even France itself made their case for a French dual language program to a receptive Department of Education.
“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.
Council Member Kallos has worked closely with the New York City Department of Education since 2014 to bring Pre-K for All to the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island, following reporting by WNYC that Yorkville, Lenox Hill and Roosevelt Island had 2,118 four-year-olds and only 123 Pre-Kindergarten seats. Some of the ways his office has done this include identifying parents with four-year-olds who pledged to send their children to Pre-K for All, working with schools and providers to become Pre-Kindergarten locations, and working with the Department of Education through the application process to open more seats in the 5th Council District on the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island. The Upper East Side has added Pre-k seats each of the past five school years and now has a capacity of 1,819 seats. [Note: for zip codes 10021, 10022, 10028, 10029, 10044, 10065, 10075, 10128, 10162]
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.