In an age of punitive school accountability systems and mass school closures, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio won his campaign in part by promising to realize a bold, new, community-driven vision for improving schools. This week, he announced the city will dedicate $150 million to equip 94 struggling schools with a broad spectrum of wraparound supports to help them improve.
This "community schools" approach transforms schools into service hubs for students, teachers and families. Students get access to things like guidance counselors, afterschool tutoring and summer programs. Teachers get more professional development opportunities. And students' families get access to mental and physical health resources and opportunities for parent engagement and community partnerships.
Local organizers in NYC have fought hard over the past few years to push community schools as an alternative to disruptive and discriminatory school closings. Given the sharable graphics the district has developed to promote the program (like the one at right), city officials are getting the message.
From Chalkbeat New York:
The new plan, dubbed “School Renewal,” turns the city into perhaps the nation’s most prominent test case of the theory that school improvement must extend beyond the classroom. Following the so-called community schools model, the city will bring physical and mental health practitioners, guidance counselors, adult literacy teachers, and a host of other service providers into these schools. They will also add an extra hour of tutoring to the school day and receive money for new after-school seats, summer programs, and more additional teacher training.
The plan also highlights de Blasio’s sharp departure from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s reliance on competition and consequences to spur school improvement.
Learn more about the new program here.