Les Petite Francophone vs Ecole Bilingue

Hi, my wife and I are currently looking into preschool options for next year for our daughter who turned 2 a couple months ago. Because my wife is French we are gravitating toward a French preschool although we are keeping our options open. The two schools were are looking at are Les Petits Francophones in Oakland and Ecole Bilingue in Berkeley. Are there current parents or anyone else who can tell me their pros and cons of the two schools (excluding the obvious price difference) and their opinions on the social and ethnic diversity of the schools? It could be a pipe dream but as my wife and myself both grew up in low-income households and worked our butts off to become financially stable and as we are both minorities we would really like our daughter to go to a diverse school with people of various nationalities and economic levels a well as providing a great education. We also want to make sure she's culturally aware of the different nationalities and that she doesn't grow up thinking she's privileged. Thanks for the help!

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We looked at both schools and ended up choosing Les Petits Francophones (LPF). While we loved EB, the enormous cost and the distance from our home were prohibitive for us. We have been very happy with LPF, and I'm honestly not sure spending the extra money for EB, especially at the preschool level, would have made a difference. The teachers and staff at LPF are warm and loving, and all are native French speakers. We are also a bilingual English-French household and have noticed a big improvement in our son's French since he started at LPF. Finally, the students and teachers at LPF are diverse, socially and ethnically (I seem to recall from our tour of EB that all of the teachers were white French people, though that may have changed). 

Our family is French-speaking, multiracial, and part working class/low income background, so we have a lot in common.  We know families who have been involved with both Les Petits Francophones and Ecole Bilingue, but since we haven't personally attended either school I would not want to make some sort of public comment about either as it's all secondhand.  However, we are currently enrolled at Francophone Charter School in Oakland and I can't say enough positive things about this wonderful, diverse gem of a school.  We are counting our lucky stars every day that our children can attend this school for free, become truly fluent in French, and still spend their days in an environment that reflects the world around them.  That means a sustained focus on global Francophone culture (vs. a France-centric approach) as well as learning alongside children from a full spectrum of neighborhoods, cultures, and backgrounds in Oakland and the East Bay.  The school is still new, so that brings with it lots of challenges, but the staff and parents are so creative and resourceful, the teachers have been uniformly excellent, and we love the families who are invested in making the school grow.  So if French is important to you, take heart: even if you go to a non-French-speaking preschool this is a unique opportunity for language immersion in a truly diverse environment later on.

Hi there, our son just started preschool at EB this year. For sure, the cost is high (and for someone who grew up in France where education is basically free, this is a hard pill to swallow...) - but I know EB has financial aid programs, and your family may also qualify for financial help from the French government. We did consider Les Petits Francophones also, but decided against it, mostly because of its location - we live in Berkeley and the commute just wouldn't have worked with our jobs. We also liked the fact that EB is not only a preschool, but has a K-8 program as well - so there is continuity (if you want that). So far we're happy with our choice: many of the kids in our son's class come from cross-cultural families (like ours) and we've been really impressed with the teachers. It really feels like they are focusing not only on academic excellence, but also on social responsibility and critical thinking. They are currently developing a restorative justice initiative in the Lower School, which I think is great. As far as your fear of raising a child who feels privileged... this is definitely not your average school - the facilities are top-notch, they have a gardening area, indoor gym, an amazing library... To me the key is to help children comprehend that they are in fact lucky to be able to attend a school like this one, not to take this for granted, to be grateful for the opportunity, and to make the most of it. Having grown up in a place where education is free (from preschool to university) and having attended good schools does in fact feel like a privilege, but I don't see it necessarily as a bad thing if I don't turn a blind eye to the experience of others, who didn't have that chance. Let me know if you have specific questions and would like to connect directly. :) 

We have been at Ecole Bilingue since kindergarten (now in middle school) and we all love it there. The community is great – there is a lot of diversity both culturally and socio economic. There are families fromall over the world and eb fosters a very global worldview. It is an expensive school, however they do offer financial aid and for French citizens there is also the Bourses Scolaires.