As West Windsor-Plainsboro parents, taxpayers, and supporters of public schools, we are excited to enroll our children in Princeton International Academy Charter School (PIACS) this fall. We are thrilled to have this unique opportunity for our kids to attend a dual-language school that is international, multilingual, and multiracial in staff and students.
However, we are disappointed with comments from senior WW-P board members, a past board member, the superintendent, the finance director, and a WW council member about this innovative elementary school. We appreciate the fiscal challenges facing the nation, state, and families.
There are several misconceptions regarding the funding and purpose of PIACS.
First, PIACS will only receive funds for the number of students actually enrolled. Superintendent Victoria Kniewel stated, “The problem is that we’re slated to have 75 students go to the charter school. We have to send that money whether 75 students go there or not.” This statement is false. New Jersey law requires state and local governments transfer 90 percent of tax dollars budgeted for a particular student enrolled in a public charter school. The remaining 10 percent of funds remains in the traditional public school system.
Second, PIACS will be funded through cost-sharing between taxpaying parents of students who enroll from three districts, not just WW-P.
Third, school officials have suggested that PIACS’ role is redundant since Mandarin is taught (part-time) in the WW-P school system. Yet the school’s mission is much broader than teaching children fluency in Mandarin.
PIACS will use the world-renowned, research-based International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum framework, which strives to “educate young people of all backgrounds . . . to promote a peaceful, ethical, and equitable world.” PIACS students experience “two-way immersion” (TWI) in Mandarin and English; research demonstrates that TWI students acquire second-language (and even third language) skills faster and with greater depth, exhibit greater comfort in speaking and interacting with persons of various ethnic and cultural groups, and are more fully prepared to engage in a global workforce and community than monolingual peers.
PIACS blazes a path for dual language and IB programs accessible to ordinary families, not just those able to afford private school tuition. We seek an end to inaccurate remarks made by some public school board members, administrators, and elected officials. We expect our leaders to focus on other issues in these times of fiscal challenge.
As involved parents and taxpayers supporting all WW-P public schools, we seek collaboration with current leaders and elected representatives on this innovative program. Our children deserve role models who lead effectively and equitably as we prepare them to be creative, caring, culturally and linguistically competent, and responsible global citizens in an ever-changing world.
Dr. Stuart & Lance Chen-Hayes,
David Tsai, Minhong Ji,
Yu Miao, Fang Zhang
Nicholas Chiu & Diana Lee , Y. Chow, Dr. Rajan Ravikumar, Daqing Tong, Stella Tsai, Dr. Justine Wu