Update: DC Public Charter School Board members voted unanimously tonight to reject the proposed Arabic Language Public Charter School, but in brief discussion they encouraged the leadership team to return next year after working with the board’s staff to strengthen the charter application. The board’s chair, Rick Cruz, expressed support for exposing more young students to a second language and said he is particularly enthusiastic about the idea of creating the District’s first Arabic immersion school. “I am deeply, deeply encouraged that this founding group is on the right path,” Cruz said. But he and his colleagues said the application fell short of the threshold for approval.
The school would operate in full Arabic immersion at the pre-kindergarten level with a 50/50 model for Arabic-English instruction in kindergarten through fifth grade, the Arabic Language Public Charter School (ALPCS) founders told the board at a public hearing on April 23 at the Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School. ALPCS is one of 11 would-be charter schools seeking approval to open in the District, with the board set to decide on the applications at its May meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Friendship Public Charter School’s Armstrong campus, 1400 1st St. NW.
Vanessa Bertelli, executive director of the DC Language Immersion Project — a nonprofit working to further bilingual education in the District — said she is not surprised by the level of interest in an Arabic charter school given the high demand for language immersion.
“That is a really astounding number for a program that is just starting out and is not proven,” Bertelli said. “I am very confident that once it is established it will be as in demand and as fully enrolled as the other dual-language programs in the District.”
Stressing the value of early immersion for language acquisition, the charter’s founders emphasized to the board a commitment to students becoming effective global citizens in a multicultural world — with Arabic opening new academic and professional opportunities.
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