Hebrew-language charter schools — long viewed by some critics as a Trojan horse for bringing religion into taxpayer-funded schools — gained a new level of acceptance when the Washington, D.C., school board recently approved the first Hebrew language school in the nation’s capital.
“There is a compelling case for the advantages of bilingual teaching, and it doesn’t matter if it is Chinese, Spanish or Hebrew,” said Scott Pearson, executive director of the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board, which approved the Sela Public Charter School on April 23. “If there would be a good proposal for an Ancient Greek school, we’d probably approve it, too.”
Yet, as Hebrew charters have overcome stereotypes of being parochial Jewish institutions, they’ve also positioned themselves as more than just schools. Many, though not all, Hebrew charters see themselves as fonts of Israel education that will cultivate students — both Jews and non-Jews — to serve as goodwill ambassadors for Israel in the years ahead.
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