- Associated Press - Thursday, March 5, 2015

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - A Tacoma high school is set to welcome up to 50 Chinese students who will each pay $10,000 in tuition.

The students will be enrolled for a full year at Foss High School next fall, following an agreement between the Tacoma school district and a private Chinese company, The News Tribune newspaper reported Thursday (https://is.gd/tBy5yg ).

The district and the company both say the goal is to promote cultural and educational exchange. The school district signed the agreement with the Beijing-based Tower Bridge Group on Feb. 27.

“Our vision is to connect the world through the power of culture,” said Tower Bridge Chairman Lawrence Liu, speaking through a translator during a recent Tacoma visit. “We believe cultural exchange will change the DNA of the world.”

Garcia said the visiting students will help Foss, home of the district’s International Baccalaureate diploma program, expand its vision for the future.

He said one goal at Foss is to “build more extensive partnerships to give Foss kids a global perspective.”

The tuition payments will cover the cost of educating the Chinese students, who will not receive state, local or federal dollars to support their education, Tacoma Deputy Superintendent Josh Garcia said.

Tower Bridge already sends students to schools in California and New Mexico. While they attend school in America, students live either with host families or in chaperoned dormitory or apartment buildings.

Liu said Tower Bridge provides a team that includes a liaison to work with host families, staff who work with students on academic and cultural needs, and individuals who help parents back in China learn what their children will experience in an American school. Parents get biweekly student progress reports.

Chinese students also will receive instruction in English provided by Tower Bridge staff.

In recent years, American educators have sometimes looked to Chinese education for clues on how to spur higher achievement in their students, particularly in math. But Liu said many Chinese families believe American-style education has much to offer their children.

“There are advantages and disadvantages of each education system,” Liu said.

In China, he said, the focus is on a single standardized learning system, while U.S. education centers more on the individual. He said a hybrid of the two systems would be ideal.

Tower Bridge chose Tacoma for its diversity, Liu said, as well as for the artistic and cultural attractions reflected in its museums.

“It is a friendly city with a rich culture,” he said.

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Information from: The News Tribune, https://www.thenewstribune.com

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