Shuang Wen School
P.S. 184M Shuang Wen School (T: 雙文學校, S: 双文学校, Shuāng Wén Xuéxiào), a public school in New York City also known as P.S. 184M, is a bilingual elementary and middle school located in Manhattan's Chinatown.The school teaches pre-kindergarten to 8th grade. It is a part of the New York City Department of Education. Admission is by lottery. As with all New York City public schools, priority is given to those who already have siblings in the school. While the school has consistently high test scores, it has been embroiled in scandals regarding fees, admissions and the integrity of parent reviews.
Upon opening in 1998, the school was described as a new type of school, and as the first English-Mandarin bilingual school in the country. The school is open to all students, and admission is thru a lottery system that gives preference to students in the local area, a heavily minority area. During the school day, nearly all instruction is in English, while the Mandarin instruction is in an after-school program.
Because this school defies some common stereotypes about race, wealth, educational achievement, this school has been written about in the newspaper and television media. While up to 70% of students have family incomes low enough to qualify for free lunch, they receive the support from parents and school to excel on citywide tests and maintain near-perfect school attendance.
The eighth graders of 2007 were the first graduating class of Shuang Wen. The school first opened in 1998. The first graduating class consisted of two eighth grade class (about 40-50 students in total). Graduating classes take a graduation trip to China, but the last class to go was the graduating class of 2010. The second graduating class trip caused some controversy and was reported on China's television channel, CCTV.
Shuang Wen Academy Network
The after-school program is run by the Shuang Wen Academy Network, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is the "development of proficiency in Mandarin Chinese, and a greater understanding of Chinese culture, so participants can become better global citizens in an increasingly competitive and demanding international environment." Since 1996, the program has operated P.S.184M's after-school and summer dual-language English-Chinese program. It serves over 500 students per year in kindergarten through eighth grade. In conjunction with the public school, SWAN earned a Federal Blue Ribbon Award, demonstrating program excellence as assessed by the No Child Left Behind Act. Over 70% of the students served by SWAN's programming came from economically disadvantaged families.
SWAN was founded by Jacob Wong, a retired principal and Chairperson of the New York Chinese Educators Committee, and other members of Chinatown.
SWAN began its first after-school Chinese Immersion Program with a class of 40 students in 1998; SWAN enrolls about 500 Pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade students each year. SWAN's summer program provides students with a unique educational and cultural curriculum that includes Chinese language learning, English and Math studies, a variety of cultural activities, fieldtrips and recreational sports activities. Beginning in the summer of 2011, the SWAN summer program is also publicly open.
Initially, this after-school program was mandatory for all students and free of charge. This changed in 2009, when parents were charged $600 and the program was made optional. However, the school sent a letter threatening to leave children unsupervised in the cafeteria if they don't pay. The fee was later refunded once funding became available. In 2010, the school raised the fee to $1,000. Despite the school's claim that the program was no longer mandatory, parents complained that students couldn't succeed in the regular school hours without the after school program due to the lack of Mandarin education during the regular school day. This, among other issues, prompted an investigation by New York City schools as to whether these fees are legal. Parents complain that the school constantly asks for more money.
As a public school, admission is by lottery. Admissions priority is given to the school's local area, known as District 1. Despite high numbers of black and Hispanic students in this district, the school has consistently had an 80% Asian make-up. In addition, the black portion of the student body dropped from 10% in 2002 to 5% in 2009. Critics claim the school is admitting Asian students outside the proper process while discouraging black and Hispanic students from attending. In addition, reports state that blacks and Hispanics have left the school due to widespread racism.
SWAN and Shuang Wen demonstrated that committed programming to dual-language learning highly influences basic reading and math scores. The following metrics demonstrate the impact of SWAN programming, until 2011, making Shuang Wen one of the highest performing public schools in New York City:
- Reading scores: 83.5%
- Math scores: 97.7%
- Enrollment: 683
- Attendance: 99%
- Free lunch: 78%
- Overcrowding: 64%
- Admissions: unzoned; priority to District 1
- Ethnicity: 8% White, 5% Black, 5% Hispanic, 80% Asian
In 2008, the school won the Golden Apple Award from the New York City Department of Sanitation. These are awarded for school beautification, recycling or waste prevention. In 2008 the US Department of Education awarded Shuang Wen the Blue Ribbon Award of Excellence. The city received straight As on its city report card in 2010. However, a portion of that grade is from parent reviews, and the principal warned parents not to give negative review and demanded they finish the reviews before they left the school that day.
- Otterman, Sharon (2010-11-01). "Shuang Wen, N.Y. English-Mandarin School, Is in Turmoil". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-07-22.
- "Fortune Favours the Smart", Rupert Murdoch in an ABC Boyer Lecture, 23 November 2008
- Freedman, Amy (2000). Political Participation and Ethnic Minorities: Chinese overseas in Malaysia Indonesia, and the United States. Page 180: Psychology Press.
- "Shuang Wen School statistics". PS/IS 184 Shuang Wen School. Insideschools.org. Retrieved 14 August 2011.