The new Hebrew Language Academy in New York is a model the Irish would do well to emulate. The Jewish community have brilliantly made the case to the tax-payers of New York for the support of a dual-language school in Brooklyn to promote Hebrew language and Israeli culture while teaching academic excellence.
The Hebrew Language Academy Charter School ("HLA") was founded in 2009 and is growing from success to success. The school educates a diverse roster of children through the medium of Hebrew and English with the goal of making achievements across subjects while gaining proficiency in Israel's first language.
This parallels Irish experience with Gaelscoileanna in Ireland. The Gaelscoil or "Irish-school" is an institution found all over Ireland that offers total-immersion education to children through Irish.
Studies have emerged in recent years to prove that the Gaelscoil is producing an elite of better educated kids who excel at math, English and sciences; and are out-pacing monoglot Irish in the labor market. Irish is a boon.
The Hebrew Charter school in Midwood Brooklyn has a reputation for being one of the most racially diverse in the city. A third of the students are Black, and many are Hispanic. Of the 150 students, the majority are Jewish, but the success of Hebrew has been its promotion among other peoples.
The school is largely financed by New York tax-payers, but administered privately with plans to replicate it in dozens of other locations around the country. Phoenix, Minneapolis, East Brunswick, NJ and Manhattan Beach, Calif. are all on the list of places that will soon have a Hebrew Charter school.
The success of Gaelscoil in Ireland opens an opportunity for the Irish educational sector to export its successes while strengthening the diaspora and promoting richer Irish identity abroad. The Hebrew Charter School model is the way to move this forward.
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