Why a Japanese DLP in District 14
The Japanese dual-language initiative was borne out of a need for more high quality dual-language programs (DLPs) in D14 public schools. Our community has seen first-hand how a strong dual-language program can transform school communities in just a few short years (PS 84 and PS 110, for example). We are even seeing a trend of D14 parents opting out of G&T programs to send their children to DLPs instead. To make our Japanese DLP a reality we were in search of a “hidden gem” in D14 that embodied all the qualities we look for in a school: strong, visionary administration, progressive community of teachers and learners, and strong partnerships with local resources.
We have seen with our own eyes how rapidly gentrification transformed the landscape of our neighborhood – high rise condos bringing in wealthier families not interested in exploring public school options beyond the 3 or 4 schools mentioned on the parent listservs. Only a handful of public schools have been able to attract these families: PS 84 has a successful Spanish dual-language program; PS 110 with French DLP; PS 132 with the G&T program; and most recently, PS 414 Brooklyn Arbor with their focus on green and environmental curriculum alongside a Spanish DLP program. Our goal is partner with an unknown yet wonderful public school to build a program that will not only benefit its existing community but also draw parents from all around the district.
D14 has the second highest population of Japanese-speaking families in all of Brooklyn with the first being in D15 Park Slope. These Japanese families are first generation, many having immigrated since 2000. As this community grew, they formed the Brooklyn Japanese American Family Association (BJAFA) in 2005. Within this community, most have college or professional degrees and many are artists and business owners. There is a strong desire to have their children speak Japanese and retain as much of their cultural values while growing up in America. Families readily spend money for private bilingual or Japanese instruction in weekend, after-school, and preschool programs. When we build this program in PS 147, this will be the very first Japanese dual-language program in all of NYC DOE.