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A second Mandarin immersion school proposed for Washington D.C.

September 16, 2020

Washington D.C.’s Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School is an extraordinarily popular Mandarin immersion charter school in the city. For the 2020-2021 school year it had 62 seats available for 3-year-olds entering its preschool. The waitlist was 423 students long. By Kindergarten there are no seats available as they’re all taken up with the school’s preschoolers.

It’s also Washington D.C.’s only Mandarin immersion program.

That could change.

A group of parents has proposed a new charter school, to be called Global Citizens Public Charter School. It would offer both a Mandarin immersion track and a Spanish immersion track.

Interestingly, Maquita Alexander, the principal of Washington Yu Ying, is one of the school’s advisors, so it’s clear people in the District realize there’s a need for more immersion schools.

And of course there’s the DC Language Immersion Project, a non-profit that seeks to “engage families, support educators, research best practices and advocate for a systemic approach to equitably increasing opportunity and strengthening communities through multilingual education.”

The Global Citizens school seeks to enroll its first class of preschoolers in the 2020-2022 school year, beginning Kindergarten in 2022-2023. It would located in the District’s Ward 7 or Ward 8, both high poverty areas that have few language immersion options. It would be K – 5.

The proposal for the school’s charter makes clear that it is also a case for equity in city where there are multiple language immersion options in wealthier parts of town.

At Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom PCS (East End), which is the only public charter school offering a language immersion program east of the Anacostia River, there were 318 students on the waitlist (for Pre-K3 through 1st grade) for the 2019-2020 school year8. Even more startling – nearly 50% of the students who attend public charter schools and live in Wards 7 and 8, attend a public charter school located in a different ward.9 That is 9,965 (almost 10,000) students leaving Wards 7 or 8 to find high quality school options. This is clearly an equity imperative!

The the time the school is fully enrolled, in 2027-2028, it envisions 525 students, half of whom would be in the Mandarin immersion program.

The application was submitted on January 7, 2020. You can read it here.

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