What is a charter school?
Charter schools are unique public schools that are allowed the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student growth and achievement. Because they are public schools, they:
- are open to all children;
- do not charge tuition; and
- do not have special entrance requirements.
Charter schools were created to help improve our nation’s public school system by offering parents another public school option to better meet their child’s specific needs. At the core of the charter school model is the belief that public schools should be held accountable for student learning. In exchange for this accountability, school leaders should be given freedom to do whatever it takes to help students achieve and should share what works with the broader public school system so that all students benefit. (National Alliance for Public Charter Schools)
Who is eligible to attend Hebrew Public charter schools?
All children who are eligible to attend a traditional public school are eligible to attend any charter school, including students with special needs and those who are English Language Learners. Students are admitted to a charter school through a random lottery. However, charter schools typically must give admissions preference in the lottery to children who reside in the school district in which the charter school is located.
What is the average class size at Hebrew Public charter schools?
Our schools typically have an average of 25 students in each classroom. In most Hebrew Public schools, each classroom has two teachers (a general education teacher and a Hebrew language teacher). The student-to-teacher ratio averages12:1.
Foreign language skills offer children a lifelong ability to communicate with more people and a window into other cultures. Not only does language learning support academic achievement and provide cognitive benefits to students, it also affects attitudes and beliefs about language learning. Foreign language competency in many cases has shown to lead to overall increased school performance and superior problem-solving skills. Hebrew is a unique language with ancient roots in Near East culture. At the same time, Hebrew is a fascinating case of an ancient language that was revived in modern times, and is today at the heart of a vital and flourishing culture that bridges Europe and Asia, East and West. Hebrew is an entrée to other Semitic languages, including Arabic. Hebrew introduces young children both to the syntax and to a common vocabulary shared by Arabic and other Near Eastern and Asian languages that are in high demand by the U.S. Departments of State, Homeland Security, and Defense, as well as commerce and international development agencies. The Hebrew language has a challenging but not insurmountable level of difficulty for English speakers.
How is Hebrew taught?
Hebrew instruction happens in a designated Hebrew class taught by two or three Hebrew instructors and, with the exception of English language arts, is incorporated in all subjects through a team-teaching model with the Hebrew teacher and general education or specials teacher. Hebrew is taught through a proficiency-based approach, which is considered the gold standard in foreign language instruction in the USA and around the world. Students are immersed in Hebrew right from the beginning in a classroom environment where only Hebrew is spoken. Hebrew is further immersed in the school in community times – breakfast, lunch, recess – where Hebrew teachers oversee those gathering times and communication is conducted solely in Hebrew. Through this model, children are able to acquire the language by actively being engaged in meaningful interactions in the language, thus developing their speaking and comprehension skills in a highly effective way. As students advance through the grade levels, speaking and listening skills continue to be developed and reading and writing are introduced, developed and strengthened. Important to the acquisition of the Hebrew language is the study of the attendant history and culture of that language.
The study of Hebrew and the exploration of world Hebrew-speaking communities provide a link among many of the subjects in the school’s curriculum (in particular social studies and the arts). This allows for the examination and exploration of Hebrew culture and history in the context of both American and world histories, while illustrating the inter-connectedness of our global world today. We believe this unique aspect of our schools better prepares our students to be active participants in the global community of today and tomorrow.
What other subjects are taught at Hebrew Public charter schools?
At Hebrew Public schools all children are taught the core subjects of English Language Arts, math, social studies, and science, as well as Hebrew. In addition to these core subjects, students have regular physical education. Art and music are also an important part of the curriculum and students receive regular instruction in these arts during the week. The use of educational technology is integrated into core subject areas.
Do your schools have any religious classes or content?
No. Like all other public schools, our schools abide by the First Amendment and are totally non-sectarian. We are open to and welcome students of all faiths and backgrounds. And we neither encourage nor discourage religious devotion in any way.
How is it possible to have a Hebrew language charter school that is not a religious school?
Hebrew is a distinct language and culture that stands on its own. It is naturally associated with Judaism, but it is not inherently religious – much the same way that Greek is not inherently Greek Orthodox, Arabic is not inherently Muslim, Italian is not inherently Roman Catholic, or English is not inherently Anglican. The best proof of Hebrew’s secular nature is the fact that has long been taught and studied at public schools and colleges across America without raising any First Amendment issues. For example, Hebrew currently is being taught at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, Townsend Harris High School in Queens, in middle and high schools in Long Island, at Bellaire High School in Houston, and at several schools in the Chicago area, among others.
How many students does Hebrew Public plan to reach?
We are working to open and/or establish relationships with enough schools across the country so we can ultimately serve tens of thousands of students each year.
If you have any additional questions regarding charter schools or Hebrew Public’s work, please contact Mark Fink at 212-792-6234 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org