In contrast to the Bloomberg administration, which believed in closing schools with low test scores, the de Blasio administration is launching a “community schools” model, in which schools are paired with community organizations to help them improve. Here is a press release from the New York City Department of Education, a welcome departure from the past, when almost every school lived under threat of closure:
DE BLASIO ADMINISTRATION’S FIRST 45 COMMUNITY SCHOOLS GET PAIRED WITH COMMUNITY PARTNERS AND PREPARE FOR 2015 LAUNCH
Each school to adopt transformative educational approach to address whole needs of children and provide targeted services such as vision care, mentoring, arts and sports education, social workers and other mental health services, youth leadership programming, and academic enrichment to help students catch-up or leap ahead
NEW YORK—Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and Deputy Mayor Richard Buery today announced the first 45 Community Schools launched under the de Blasio administration have been matched with 25 local community-based organizations and approved to provide a slate of new services to help students develop and learn.
Under the $52 million four-year Attendance Improvement and Dropout Intervention (AIDP) grant administered in partnership with the United Way of New York, New York City will launch more community schools than any other city in the nation. Community Schools are a pillar of Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña’s education agenda, supporting social, emotional, physical and academic needs of students to support learning. The AIDP-funded community schools will include a specific focus on chronic absenteeism and drop-out prevention.
The research-based Community School model has a proven track record of improving academic achievement. It creates strong partnerships between schools and experienced community partners to provide social services, counseling and mental health supports, targeted academic interventions, and engage entire families and communities as part of a holistic approach towards elevating educational outcomes.
Each of the 45 community schools has been matched to an effective community-based organization and a full-time in-school Community School Coordinator. The Community School Coordinator’s role is to customize and organize the delivery of supports to students such as mentors, mental health professionals, academically enrichment services during and after the school day, optometrists and dental services, as needed.
“We believe in investing in the whole child. Every student comes to class with different challenges that can make it difficult to learn. Community Schools respond to families’ needs in innovative ways so that students become more likely to attend class, and better able to focus and succeed. We know that when this model is done right, it has a proven track record of strong academic results,” said Mayor de Blasio.
“For our students to succeed they must be in school learning, and within the community school model, the whole needs of students are addressed,” said Chancellor Fariña. “Not only can there be an eye clinic or additional guidance counselors to address the social and emotional needs of our students, but parent involvement and engagement happens every single day. When I visit schools and see parents volunteering in the classroom, sitting in a communal room having coffee and discussing how to support their kids, I know these schools will become anchors within their communities and our students are the winners.”
“Combined with Pre-K for All and after-school enrichment in our middle schools, these Community Schools are going to lift up thousands of students. These schools serve some of our most challenged communities, and that puts even more pressure on our teachers and principals to help kids succeed and build a better life. Having seen strong Community Schools in action right here in New York City, I know what a difference they can make. We cannot wait to roll up our sleeves and get started,” said Deputy Mayor Buery.
“United Way of New York City is proud to partner with the de Blasio administration on this visionary effort,” said Sheena Wright, President and CEO, United Way of New York City. “We firmly believe this Community Schools initiative will be integral in transforming the lives of New York City’s children, and UWNYC is fully leveraging our unique strength and over 23-year experience working with CBOs to help successfully launch the City’s strategy.”
Dozens of studies from the past two decades have demonstrated the positive impact of Community Schools on academic achievement. An analysis of 11 of Boston’s K-5 City Connects schools found students had significantly outperformed peers in comparable schools in academic work across grades 3-5. Students in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s most successful Community Schools significantly outperformed their peers in math by 32 points and in reading by 19 points, with poor students in those Community Schools erasing the achievement gap with students from more affluent families.
Across New York City, Community School development is in full swing. Community School Coordinators are being hired this month to oversee school-by-school planning. Parent, staff and community forums to solicit input will begin early in the new year, with each school’s service plan developed in March and most services beginning subsequently. Some services such as mentoring for chronically absent students and on-campus counseling may begin by January 2015.
Among the programs announced today is Manhattan’s High School for Media and Communications, which will partner with Catholic Charities to provide prep courses for the SAT and Regents exams, as well as after-school programming in theater and the arts. Rockaway Collegiate High School will partner with Family Health International to provide adult mentoring for students, staff professional development and mental health services on campus.
“This program has the potential to fundamentally transform our schools and will make a difference in the lives of so many children and families,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. “Research clearly demonstrates that children who receive comprehensive services perform better academically, that’s is why I and my colleagues in the Assembly Majority have long supported AIDP initiatives and were proud to support Community Schools in recent State Budgets. Supporting the comprehensive social, emotional, physical and academic needs of students will pay huge dividends in the future and helps ensure our children receive the best education possible.”
“The beauty of a Community School is that it is built on the idea that we are stronger together,” said Karen Alford, Vice President for Elementary Schools, United Federation of Teachers. “Schools are stronger when they are paired with community partners. These organizations can bring targeted resources to answer the specifics needs of students and families at a particular school – a cookie-cutter approach won’t do. From our own experience, we know that strong community partners can make a real difference in the lives of students and in the climate of a school.”
“We welcome the opportunity to work in even deeper partnership with the Department of Education to make sure that all the elements needed for high-quality Community Schools are in place and strong,” said Phoebe C. Boyer, President and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society. “With City Hall’s full support, we can bring this proven strategy to more schools and ensure that even more New York City children have access to the supports they need to thrive in school.”
“We look forward to the opportunity to work with Principal Santi Taveras and the Dewitt Clinton community to provide counseling and enrichment services for all of the smaller learning communities that have been created at the school,” said Jim Marley, Assistant Executive Director of Good Shepherd Services. “We are also looking at partnerships to provide additional support to help students graduate ready for college or a meaningful career through Regents preparation and youth leadership training. Good Shepherd will lend its total support to help this school succeed and work in lockstep with the principal, staff and students to encourage families to take advantage of the new opportunities the school offers.”
“Phipps Neighborhoods is proud to be part of the Community Schools initiative,” said Dianne Morales, Executive Director and CEO of Phipps Neighborhoods. “Community Schools combine the unique strengths of schools and community-based organizations in partnership to create opportunities for students, families and communities to succeed and rise above poverty.”
“P.S. 15 is excited to partner with Pathways 2 Leadership, an organization that has demonstrated a commitment toward serving our youth through high-quality programming,” said Irene Sanchez, principal of P.S. 15 Roberto Clemente. “They bring with them an extensive
network of partners that will be invaluable to P.S. 15. They understand what it means to be a Community School. P2L has already brought on a full-time social worker and plans to offer a superior wrap around after-school program with P.S. 15 beginning in January. Our collaborative practices coupled with their expertise will support the creation of an exceptional community school.”
“CEJ is pleased that this administration recognizes the critical role of community-based organizations in supporting school success and combatting challenges like absenteeism that NYC schools have faced for a very long time. The deep local roots and expertise in community engagement and leadership development that neighborhood organizations like Make the Road NY bring to the Bushwick Campus high schools will be invaluable in creating Community Schools that build on neighborhood strengths and address challenges. These types of true community partnerships are the backbone of the Community Schools model,” said Zoraida Conde, a parent leader from Make the Road NY and the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice.
In addition to these first 45 schools, the City will launch another 83 Community Schools as part of its Renewal Schools plan to address historically low performing schools. Eleven of the newly designated AIDP Community Schools are also Renewal Schools.
The Department of Education is in the process of contracting with a third party evaluator for the AIDP Community Schools initiative and the administration is committed to studying the efficacy of the model over time.
For a full list of new Community Schools and to learn more, visit schools.nyc.gov/communityschools.