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Families who are arguing for Mandarin immersion in NJ

January 16, 2012

This is clearly such a divisive issue in New Jersey. Have Mandarin programs been that elsewhere, or is it simply because this is a charter? There was opposition in Palo Alto to their program, because it wasn’t available to everyone (though not everyone wanted it.) Has anyone seen this level of opposition before?

Who’s Interested in a Mandarin Charter? Three Families Give Their Reasons

Amidst vociferous opposition, three proponents of the Hua Mei Charter School tell their stories.

When the proposed Hua Mei charter school held an informational meeting last summer at the Maplewood Library, seven interested parties showed up. When opponents held a rally on Jan. 6, more than 150 people attended.

Indeed, dueling petitions for and against the charter show a decided majority expressing opposition.

But founders of the charter — which will either be approved or rejected by NJ State Acting Commissioner of Education Christopher Cerf on Tuesday — assert that the charter is drawing support and interest from within and without the West Orange, South Orange and Maplewood communities.

Marcus Leon and his wife came across information about Hua Mei as they considered a move from Brooklyn to the Maplewood-South Orange community.

Leon is a systems analyst and his wife a graphic designer. They have a 20-month-old daughter named Olivia.

“We’d like Olivia to have an awareness of other cultures, and learning a language is one of the best ways to develop this,” said Leon. “China is on the way to having the world’s largest economy so kids who can learn Mandarin now should have a leg up in their lifetimes.”

Leon also said that immersion seemed to be the way to go with Mandarin education. “We really like the immersion model. Hearing a language day in and day out is the best way for anyone, especially kids, to learn another language.”

Leon said that he and his wife are looking to move out of the city to a family-friendly area where their daughter can attend an immersion program.  “Maplewood and South Orange seem like great places to raise a family. With the addition of a Mandarin immersion school Maplewood/South Orange would be an extremely attractive place for us to move to.”

Please read more here.

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