Francophone Charter School of Oakland

Community Subscriber
Oakland

Charter School
Language(s): 
English, French
Grades: 
K-8
Capacity: 
170 students
Website: http://www.francophoneschool.org/
Email: contact [at] francophoneschool.orgPhone: 510-746-0700
Address: 
9736 Lawlor Street Oakland, CA 94605
Program Type: 
Language immersion

The Francophone Charter School of Oakland is a tuition-free French immersion public charter elementary school, located in the Toler Heights neighborhood of Oakland.  The school uses the French language and the many interwoven cultures associated with it to develop bilingual and bi-literate global citizens who are open-minded and value intellectual curiosity, personal integrity and creativity.  The school opened in 2015 and is growing one grade at a time each year, to reach 8th grade in the 2020-21 school year.  Our enrollment period for the 2020-21 school year is November 5, 2019 - February 7, 2020 to apply for grades Transitional Kindergarten (TK) through 8th grade.  Students can enter Kindergarten with no previous exposure to the French language.  Students entering grades 1-8 will need to show grade-level proficiency in French.  Detailed enrollment available at http://francophoneschool.org/enroll-now/

Parent Q&A

Francophone experience May 19, 2020 (0 responses below)
Francophone charter school advice for 2020-21 May 19, 2020 (1 responses below)
getting off the waitlist for Francophone Apr 15, 2020 (5 responses below)
Commute to Francophone Charter School, Oakland Feb 26, 2020 (4 responses below)
Francophone Charter School of Oakland Kinder Q+A Jan 11, 2020 (2 responses below)
Updated Reviews / Francophone Charter Mar 18, 2019 (1 responses below)
Francophone Charter School Oakland Aug 20, 2018 (1 responses below)
Charter Schools and Francophone Mar 17, 2017 (2 responses below)
  • Francophone experience

    (0 replies)

    Hi, Can any current parents share their thoughts on Francophone?  My daughter got accepted to the school and wanted to hear any thoughts about the school.  I am still debating should I send her or not this Fall.  I didn't attend any open house so don't have much infomation.  

  • We recently got an offer from Francophone for K and while I am excited about the immersion aspect of the school I am concerned about the stability of the school atmosphere and future educational plans during the pandemic. Specifically, I was hoping some parents could share if the school has provided any guidance as to how the school plans to adhere to the recommendations from the Dept of Health and Dept of Education for the upcoming school year. I know that other charter schools in the county have had discussions about limiting class size and possibly balancing in-school and distance learning. Also, did the school decide where the underclass (tk-1) will be located? Is it at Howard, Brookfield, or elsewhere? Any insight or experiences current parents share would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

    I'd say Francophone has done a pretty good job with distance learning so far--  similar or better when I compare to the experience of our friends with kids in OUSD, BUSD, and private schools.  Our kids have a few scheduled Zoom calls daily (whole class meeting, small group, and individual check ins) plus a mix of app-based and more traditional work.  As far as next fall, I don't think that anyone knows for certain what will happen at any school at this point.  It seems as if Francophone generally follows OUSD policy/guidance on these kinds of things, though it's nice to be a small charter with some more flexibility as well.  They are still navigating the facility plans for next year and everything should be finalized by mid-June.  Howard is definitely off the table.  For the TK-1 kids, they will either be at Brookfield Elementary or at Toler Heights (if Francophone is able to move the upper grades to a private site they are still in negotiations over).  I know that it must be challenging to be starting school during this uncertain time, so I wish you well no matter what you choose to do.  We have had an outstanding academic experience with Francophone.

  • getting off the waitlist for Francophone

    (5 replies)

    Hi, my son was #120 on the waitlist for Francophone, any parents know from past experience the chances of getting off the waitlist with that high number drawn,  

    For what grade? I would say yout chances are very slim at this point. 

    Hello, 

    My daughter is in kindergarten at Francophone and she was waitlisted #52 last year and we had her enrolled at Sequoia Elementary and then got a notice last May that she got in so you never know. 

    As a parent there, we are sooo happy with the school and grateful to be a part of such an amazing community of family and educators. I can't pretend to understand all of the politics underlying the charter school process but have noticed that things are often changing and they seem to make miracles happen so stay hopeful that your child will get in, while also planning for an alternative option just in case. Good luck! 

    Thanks for the reply.  I am staying hopeful my son will get a spot.  BTW, I applied for Kindergarten this coming school year 

  • Hi,

    Our son is young, but we're in the process of considering some language immersion programs for preschool/elementary. I'm very interested in French immersion, but don't know how challenging it might be to commute from North Oakland/Berkeley down to the Francophone Charter school. Do any parents have thoughts on this? Do the families attending that school live in the surrounding community or not? If we stay in the North Oakland/Berkeley area, does EB just make the most sense?

    Thanks in advance!

    Families come from all over Oakland to attend Francophone.   We commute from North Oakland to the school and we have a carpool with 2 other families so it has worked out great (every morning someone else comes directly to my door to pick up my child, can't beat that!).  There are several carpools and new ones get organized each year.  Some parents drop off at the school and then commute from San Leandro or Coliseum BART or take the AC Transit transbay buses that leave from the area like the NX4.  Another strategy is that the JCC in North Oakland picks up from Francophone each day, so if you can afford their aftercare program (which if you're also considering EB I'm assuming you can?) then they'll bring your child back to North Oakland each day and it's only the morning commute you'd have to figure out.  There is some uncertainty about the second location of the school next year that's still being sorted out, they're dependent on OUSD to rent them space in available campuses so factor that in when considering the school. 

    My daughter goes to EB and we're happy with the school although it is expensive. We live in Oakland in the Dimond and the commute in the morning isn't bad although in the evenings it could take 40+ min to get home. If you're in North Oakland/Berkeley the commute would probably be a lot better especially compared to Francophone. One thing to note is that Francophone doesn't have a preschool (just TK) so EB might be your best bet if your son is young. Also, we have friends whose kids go to Francophone and they told us the school will likely move next year to the Oakland Airport area. Not sure if that affects your decision or not. I assume price isn't an issue because in that regards Francophone is the far better a choice. A number of kids at EB left for Francophone once they start kindergarten for the cost alone.

    We applied to the francophone charter school and got number 150 on the waitlist - so if you try for this school be sure you have a good back up option.

  • I recently took a quick tour of the Francophone Charter School but we could not visit the Kindergarten located At Howard Elementary. I'm intrigued with program and our parent guide had lots of positive things to say about the teaching and parent community but it was clear the facilities are bare bones at this stage. I understand the Kindergarten campus may be moving but in the likelihood it stays at Howard for 2020 I'm hoping some families would answer a few questions about the facilities and the kinder program?  How has it been sharing the campus with another program? Are the classrooms in mobile units or physically in the school? Do the kids have access to the play-yard and climbing structure? Is there any overlap with the Howard kids in the communal spaces? How did the school handle air quality issues when we had wildfires? How has the Francophone Kindergarten experience been overall? Thank you! 

    We have a kindergartener this year at Francophone's location with Howard, as well as an older child at the other campus.  To answer your questions, it's a mix of classrooms in both portables and the main building.  I would say that the co-location for the younger grades has been challenging at times, and there have been some issues around sharing access to the play structure, etc, but in truth it's probably more challenging for the adults than the kids themselves.  The principal at Howard is great and most of the parents and teachers have been friendly and welcoming, but of course no one likes the idea of sharing a campus and it's hard to build strong relationships between Howard and Francophone when there is no clarity from OUSD on long-term plans.  That said, we love the school and have been lucky to have outstanding teachers each year.  We love our Francophone K teacher this year and continue to be very impressed with the academic side of the school.  We're really starting to see this pay off with our older child's French skills after 4 years of immersion, and he's also reading in English at a much higher level than we would have expected.  The facilities issue is a challenge for sure, but for us the language immersion is worth it.

    Hello! We are a first year FCSO family with a child in Kindergarten. I will say that the transition has been difficult for our child. When we toured last year, Kindergarten was at the Toler Heights campus. We later found out the lower grades would be moved to Howard but didn't get an opportunity to tour the classrooms until right before school started. The Kindergarten classes are in the portable units, not on the main campus, although I think TK is in the main building. The classrooms are fine. The teachers have done a good job of making the classrooms suitable for the kids. The complaint I have about the location of the classrooms is that the bathroom is on the other side of the playground. The school has implemented a buddy system so that the kindergartners don't go alone. Recess and lunch is scheduled so that it won't overlap with the Howard kids. Until recently, the FCSO kids were only allowed to use the play structure once or twice per week during the school day, with daily access available only for the kids who stayed during the after-school program. There were several complaints so it appears Howard is now allowing FCSO kids daily time on the play structure. Sharing with Howard hasn't been all that great. I get a clear vibe that the teachers/staff don't want FCSO there but the Howard students have been kind. The school (like many others in Oakland) was closed due to PG&E power outages that occurred during the wildfires. On the other days, kids were kept inside. I have mixed feelings about the school. There are many things I love including a diverse student body, wonderful parent community, dedicated staff, and the French immersion aspect (which is the main reason we enrolled). However there have been some drawbacks.  We came from a super organized preschool with very experienced teachers and small class sizes. We knew that FCSO would be a much different environment but decided to give it a shot anyway. Overall, the school seems chaotic and disorganized. I suppose that is typical for any new school, but it has been very tough on our child.  We are on the fence about sticking around next year. We will see how things go with the remainder of this school year.

  • Updated Reviews / Francophone Charter

    (1 reply)

    I'm looking for updated reviews on Francophone Charter school. We toured the facility and noticed some things we liked and didn't like. The Cons: We are less than thrilled by the campus and class sizes appear to be large. The Pros: The children look happy and the parents we met seem to be pleased with the school. The French immersion program is a huge draw for us because we want our children to be fluent in French. We're not sure if school is a good fit for our child because he is high-energy and we're worried he might get lost or left out in a class with so many kids. He's currently enrolled at EB for preschool and doing well. We really love it there but the cost of private school tuition for two children is taking a toll on our family's budget. Are there any parents who transitioned their children from EB to Francophone?  Did your children adjust well to larger class sizes? Academically, how do the two schools compare? Any information or feedback from current Francophone parents would be greatly appreciated!

    Merci!

    We also debated between EB and Francophone and chose Francophone, and it has worked out well so far for our kindergartener.  I think from an academic perspective they actually aren't dramatically different, certainly not different enough to justify the $30,000 price difference per kid per year.  Teacher/student ratio is definitely better at EB.  Teachers are generally newer/younger at Francophone.  Francophone just received the official French "Label" this year so that means they're going to be able to recruit/retain more experienced teachers going forward.  Both schools have plenty of wriggly kindergarten boys, and both schools are places where your kid will be immersed in French.  It just depends on what you want to prioritize.

  • Francophone Charter School Oakland

    (1 reply)

    Hello,

    Can anyone share any thoughts about Francophone charter school of Oakland, preferably from this past year 2017-2018. We just got of the waitlist and are considering starting this year. Thank you!

    We're really happy with the school overall, for two reasons.  First is we really enjoy the other families and the sense of community.  Second is our kid has picked up so much French in two years there.  And we don't speak any French at home, either.  Since it's still a new school the parents are really involved and I think that's why there's such a strong community.  Of course like any school some parents are a lot more involved than others, so you don't have to volunteer all the time, but you will be asked to.  There's been a lot of turnover with staff which has been hard but from what we've heard, that's very typical of a new school or start up of any kind, really. 

  • Charter Schools and Francophone

    (2 replies)

    My daughter is 5 & will be entering kindergarten. She got into 2 charter schools -- North Oakland Community & Francophone. I'm trying to make a decision but would like some reviews on both schools.

    We have been very happy with Francophone.  Teachers are absolutely wonderful and the school community is warm and diverse (coming from all over the globe as well as all over the East Bay).  As you know it is a new school and that means there are still some areas where they're figuring it out, as would be expected.  No school is perfect.  Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to go to a neighborhood school, and while I can imagine the benefits of that, I've also seen that when you have people specifically choosing a school and coming from all over the East Bay to attend that means you have parents and families who are really invested in the place.  If you want true language immersion, diversity, and a tight-knit "roll up your sleeves and pitch in" kind of school community, I think you'd be very happy there.    

    We tried Francophone last fall and ended up withdrawing our child. When we toured the school their first year, there were co-executive directors who seemed on top of things -- we particularly liked the years of experience one of the directors brought. Based on that experience we applied to Francophone and were elated when our kid was allotted a spot. We knew that the school was new and we would have to be flexible and pitch in; in fact, we looked forward to being part of that community. Unfortunately, the class (this was for a lower grade) was disorganized, I interrupted two fist fights on the first day of school (I stayed to volunteer when the teacher announced that she would love parents to stay if they could), and the playground felt dangerous (the whole school on one little play structure, which meant that the little kids were getting pushed out of the way). Some of the teaching staff were still in France and so weren't physically present for the first week of school. We loved the idea of a charter immersion school and were prepared for some disarray, but this just felt unsafe and more than we were willing to experiment as a first school experience. I'm glad to see from the other review that things seem to have settled down, but I wanted to give an alternative perspective. 

Parent Reviews

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Don’t have any firsthand experience with immersion preschools, but if you’re able to develop/maintain her French she'd likely get a spot at FCSO for kindergarten.  The school is getting more and more popular, apparently a huge waitlist for next year.  But they strive for dual immersion so kids who live in Oakland and can demonstrate age-appropriate French proficiency are pretty much guaranteed a spot.  We attend the school and the community of families is really exceptional.

My son goes to the East Bay Francophone Charter School. It is a start-up, so you have to be okay with that environment, which has its pluses and minuses. For example, the location is gritty, and while we are actively looking for a larger space, it's hard to say what will happen, or when. Everyone can get involved with shaping the school's identity, which (for me) is exciting and worthwhile. The educational experience is top-notch, and that's why we will stay. It is full immersion: 80% of the day is in French for the younger students. Without a doubt, your child will become bilingual. This is very good for the brain, no matter what the second language. On top of that, teachers trained in the French educational system receive superb pedagogical preparation--significantly better, in general, than teacher prep programs here in the US. The English teacher last year was terrific too. The school is very diverse socio-economically, ethnically, racially. There is an active, friendly, inclusive parent community, both native speakers and non-French speakers. Come to an open house and see for yourself!

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.

Regarding Francophone Charter School of Oakland, there was a TK wait list for this year. There was also a change in school leadership from last year. If you do decide to consider the school, I suggest finding out as much as you can about plans for next year, faculty retention, potential site changes, and the hiring/recruitment process for teachers. 

If you're open to dual immersion in French, don't forget about Francophone Charter School of Oakland.  The school is in its second year of operation, and there was a lottery for K this year but it's certainly possible to get in.  Not sure if there will be a lottery for TK but I know they offer a TK program. 

We put our Kindergartener in Francophone Charter School of Oakland in August of this year (2015). Her teacher is kind, disciplined, and great at communicating with me when I have questions. I feel so lucky that my daughter has her as a teacher and am worried we are spoiled for future years! I also really love that she (and all the other teachers at FCSO) are native French speakers. My daughter has a really great accent already.

I have started to learn some basic French phrases but I have overwhelmingly felt accepted despite my general lack of French skills. My husband and I are both monolingual. The school has such a mix of families and I love to see the blend of community that could only be made in the Bay Area, and I think it's an especially great place because it pools from all over the Bay Area, not just Oakland.

My daughter is on the more extroverted and high energy side of the personality profile. Though she had a time of adjusting to the demands of a school day, she has done well. I feel confident that we will remain at FCSO with all of our children. I am so excited that it will eventually go through 8th grade!

~Emily

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Early reviews of Francophone Charter School? 

Nov 2015

Anyone have any feedback on Francophone Charter School in Oakland? We realize the school just opened this year and will inevitably go through some growing pains, but we're curious about the facility, community atmosphere, level of parent involvement, experiences with faculty and school leadership. etc. We're considering sending our child there for TK next year and he hasn't had any previous exposure to French, but we'd love for him to grow up bilingual. French curious


Hello French curious mom:

My daughter entered Francophone Charter school as a Kindergartener this fall. I am happy to talk to you personally if you wish. In short, we have been very happy. Yes there are growing pains as would be expected for a brand new school. We like the administration and have found a very diverse group of involved parents. My daughter, who tends to be a little sensitive and reserved has done very well and is quite happy to go to school. . Her french is superb for only being in an immersion situation for 3 months. The facility right now is good although not in a central location. The school may be moving next year, depending on enrollment, but the goal is to be in a central Oakland location. siobhan


Our son started Kindergarten at Francophone Charter School this year and we are so happy we decided to send him there. It being the first year, honestly my expectations were not that high because I know it takes time for new schools to get established. But so far Francophone has far exceeded my expectations. The leadership, teachers, staff, and parent community are all so dedicated and invested in the success of this school. It has a really tight-knit family community feel and you can tell the children love it there.

And let me tell you, the immersion model really works. My son had no French speaking background, and in just these 3 short months he has learned so much. He comes home rattling off new sentences in French every day and I often catch him singing French songs to himself while he's playing.

The only challenge for us has been the location since it's a little far for us. But we've worked out carpooling with other families and that has been working out well. I know many other families are doing the same to help each other out. It has not been a deal breaker for us because we know the current location is most likely temporary. For us all the extra commuting has been a small price to pay to be part of such a great school. Happy Francophone parent
 


March 2015

Does anyone have any info on the new French immersion charter school opening this fall in Oakland? I kind of stumbled upon it, we're very interested in putting our son in a language immersion school, but can't afford any of the private ones. We just found out about it, so we've missed some of the info sessions. Has anyone already applied/enrolled their child? What are your thoughts about the school and staff? Curious parent


Hi-- I attended an information session, and was impressed enough to apply.

What I liked about it is the immersion, of course, but also that they are not trying to be a french-american school, but truly Francophone -- i.e. teaching the language and culture of all the francophone countries. The parents who have started the school are very motivated and have the background skills to put the school together. They've been talking a lot with Yu-Ming, the other very successful Mandarin charter school in Oakland, as well as the Santa Rosa French immersion charter school. They also seem to have some consideration for other developmental things outside of learning a new language, such as socio-emotional issues. I feel like a lot of immersion schools focus too much on just teaching the new language.

I am mildly concerned that it is brand new and developing, so is somewhat of an unknown. And they don't have a location yet.

Check out their website -- I think they have a meet and greet scheduled with the principal as well as a potluck celebration this Saturday.

Siobhan