View Full Version : East Bay Chinese Charter School Set for Alameda County

12-30-2010, 09:33 PM
This from WSJ.com (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704278404576037654242953330.html) by Geoffrey A. Fowler:
Weighing the public education options for his two children, El Cerrito doctor Michael Jugo felt the East Bay fell short. He wanted them to have an advantage he didn't have growing up: learning Chinese at school.

"The writing was on the wall that there wasn't going to be an option for us without moving or paying private tuition," says Mr. Jugo, 38 years old, who learned Mandarin after college and speaks it at home with his kids, ages 2 and 5, and wife, who is Chinese-American.

Or so he thought. Instead, Mr. Jugo chose an even more difficult path—creating a Chinese-language public charter school in his own county.

After a year of planning, Mr. Jugo and a group of four other families in November received unanimous approval from Alameda County to launch a Mandarin Chinese immersion charter school, the first of its kind in the state.

The Yu Ming Charter School—the name roughly translates as "Nurturing Tomorrow"—is now hunting for a principal and hopes to begin classes in the fall for about 100 kindergarten and first-grade students, expanding over time to include up to the eighth grade. So far, about 120 families have expressed interest or attended meetings for the school.

The parents and the county are hoping the school will fill a hole for public Chinese education in the East Bay, which despite a large Chinese population has fewer immersion education options than other parts of the Bay Area. San Francisco, for instance, has several public Chinese immersion schools and a prominent private school. There are also many Mandarin-language programs in the South Bay. But while East Bay cities like Fremont and Hayward have schools with Mandarin, there aren't any public programs in the northern part of Alameda County.

"Chinese is a challenging language, but I think there's a growing demand," says Alameda County schools superintendent Sheila Jordan. The Yu Ming school attracts people "who want to maintain their culture and have their children learn Mandarin in a meaningful way that gives them a leg up in business and life to be bilingual," she adds.

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