November 10, 2009

Daley, School Officials Announce Expansion of Arabic Language Program

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Richard M. Daley and Chicago Public Schools officials today announced plans to expand the CPS Arabic language program using an $888,000 U.S. Department of Education grant.

Since its launch three years ago, the Arabic language program has grown to serve 2000 CPS students in 10 schools citywide. The three-year Foreign Language Assistance Grant (FLAP) will fund expansion of the program to three additional schools, professional development for teachers and technology-based instruction using SAFARI-Blackboard technologies.

“Our vision is to give all of our students the kind of education that prepares them to compete in tomorrow’s global workforce,” Daley said at Durkin Park Elementary School, 8445 S. Kolin Av., where kindergarten through fifth-grade students are taught Arabic daily.

“We all know the economic future of our city depends on our willingness to seek opportunities in the Arab world, the Americas, Asia, Europe and around the globe,” Daley added.

Daley noted that with this grant, the school system has received state, federal and other funds totaling $1.6 million for building Arabic language instruction.

Among the other grants CPS has received is the U.S. State Department’s Startalk Arabic Summer Language Institute grant each of the last three years.

It provides funding to send 30 CPS high school students to the University of Chicago to study Arabic language and culture for four weeks during the summer break. Students also take field trips to Chicago area businesses, cultural organizations and community resources, to apply the languages in real life.

CPS also invested $1 million in its Critical Languages Program in 2008 to help build up a K-12 pipeline of students studying Arabic, Chinese or Russian.

CPS officials said they had not yet selected which schools will get the expanded Critical Languages opportunities. The goal is to expand opportunities to schools that wish to grow their critical language options.

The following Chicago public high schools offer Arabic:

  • Lincoln Park High School
  • Roosevelt High School
  • Lindblom High School

The following Chicago public elementary schools offer Arabic:

  • Agassiz Elementary
  • Belding Elementary
  • Durkin Park Elementary
  • LaSalle Language Academy II
  • Marquette Elementary
  • Peck Elementary
  • Volta Elementary

Daley said the key to building a strong and secure economic future for Chicago is providing every public school student with a quality education that allows them to fulfill their potential in life. And additions to the curriculum such as the teaching of Arabic, Chinese and Russian recognize the need to better engage with other nations and businesses around the globe, he said.

"Without an educated workforce capable of filling the jobs of the global economy, Chicago won't succeed in this century," the Mayor said.

"We must remember that although we’re in a recession now, it's our responsibility to position Chicago to reap the benefits of the better times to come," he said.