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San Jose to open Mandarin immersion K-8 charter in 2016

May 29, 2015

At the beginning of May, the California State Board of Education approved, with a landslide vote, the Wei Yu International Charter School. Wei Yu will be the first Mandarin immersion charter school in Santa Clara County, and it is scheduled to open for the 2016-17 school year.

The journey to approve Wei Yu took the group of founding parents, led by Dr. Felicity Miao, through challenging hearings at the local Moreland School District, Santa Clara County Office of Education, and finally, the State Board of Education in Sacramento where they achieved success.

Roy Stanley, President of the governing board of Wei Yu commented, “The Wei Yu founding parents established a strong network of experts to bolster their curriculum development, but at the core, it was a grassroots effort led by a group of dedicated parents from the community who persevered in getting this innovative educational program approved. I am pleased that the State Board of Education recognized this need and reacted positively to our voices. We are very grateful to have the expertise of our board and advisors such as Dr. Danni Tsai, whose advocacy of language immersion education guided the parents to success.”

In addition to Dr. Tsai, Wei Yu’s governing board and advisors include Nobel Laureate Thomas Südhof, noted bilingual educator Helen Wong, and a team of seasoned teachers and administrators.

The founding families hail from diverse backgrounds and share the goal of raising children in a multilingual educational program that prepares them to succeed in the global economy.

Despite long waiting lists in existing Mandarin immersion programs, and the U.S. State Department deeming Mandarin a “critical language,” access to Mandarin immersion programs in Silicon Valley remains extremely limited. Even though Silicon Valley tech giants conduct heavy business with China, only two communities in Santa Clara County offer public Mandarin immersion programs in the elementary years, with the most recent program in Palo Alto having launched over seven years ago.

The addition of Wei Yu International Charter School as an option for learning Mandarin will give California a chance to catch up with states like Utah and Minnesota that lead the nation in public elementary Mandarin programs per student.

According to Dr. Danni Tsai, an educational visionary who was instrumental in the adoption of the Cupertino Union School District Mandarin program, “The benefits of bilingualism are clear. It is imperative that we prepare students for the needs and demands of a global society. Schools like Wei Yu will provide access and opportunities for children to acquire multilingualism, an important life and career skill. A language immersion curriculum coupled with STEAM is clearly relevant to our area. Parents should have curriculum options that match the inventive nature of Silicon Valley.”

Wei Yu International Charter School will be a K-8 Mandarin immersion STEAM school. The school plans to seek facilities in the Moreland neighborhood of West San Jose and will open its doors in July 2016 with Kindergarten and 1st grade classes.

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