Posts tagged "community schools"
January 24, 2013
As the new year began, J.H.S. 302 in Brooklyn thought it was on the right track.
Principal Lisa Linder had worked with a local nonprofit to apply for a federal grant to flood the low-performing school and the surrounding neighborhood with extra help for students and their families. In late December, the nonprofit, Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, found out it would get $371,000 from the U.S. Department of Education to move forward with the project.
Then the other shoe dropped: The city Department of Education announced on Jan. 7 that it planned to close J.H.S. 302.
The news has thrown the nonprofit partnership into question — and it has also put J.H.S. 302 at the center of a tug-of-war between two competing visions about how to improve struggling schools. (more…)
January 15, 2013
In her first major education policy address, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn signaled that she would depart in significant ways from Mayor Bloomberg’s approach to running the city’s schools.
Instead of pitting schools against each other, as Bloomberg’s policies have, Quinn said she would push them to collaborate. Instead of directing funds to pricey consultants, she said she would look for solutions within the system. And where Bloomberg spurred rapid growth in the city’s charter school sector, Quinn said she would keep the sector at its current size.
But on other issues, Quinn suggested that she would take a cue from the Bloomberg administration. For example, she said she would improve “customer service” to help families resolve problems but said only that she would “engage parents in relevant decisions and keep them in the loop.” One of Bloomberg’s first school policy changes, back in 2002, was to add parent coordinators to each school. But he has drawn sharp criticism for excluding parents from policy decisions.
Quinn’s ambitious list of education proposals includes extending school days, coordinating city services to provide comprehensive health and social services in schools, boosting literacy instruction, slashing some state testing, and buying a million tablets to replace textbooks. (more…)
January 2, 2013
The high-profile commission charged with overhauling New York’s public schools released its first set of recommendations today, endorsing several popular education reform policies but shying away from declaring a position on others. The full report, titled “Putting Students First,” is below the jump.
Governor Cuomo, who created the commission, stopped short of endorsing its recommendations, but did express early support for several ideas, including teacher performance pay and the community school model of using schools to offer supports beyond academic preparation.
Other recommendations include expanding pre-kindergarten for students in poor districts, strengthening teacher and principal preparation programs, and extending the school day and year.
The commission did not address some prickly issues, such as teacher evaluation. Chairman Richard Parsons said that was by design, citing a recommendation from State Education Commissioner John King that the commission wait to take up the topic until its next report, scheduled for next fall. (more…)
January 2, 2013
Among the thousand visitors from across the country who streamed through Cincinnati’s Oyler School in the last year were all four of New York City’s likely Democratic candidates for mayor.
They made the trip at the invitation of UFT President Michael Mulgrew, who has been touting Oyler as the epitome of a school model that he hopes New York City’s next mayor will promote.
The trips have been held up as evidence that the candidates are all trying to win the union’s endorsement. But just as significant as why the candidates made the commute is what they saw when they got there.
Cincinnati has turned all of its more than 50 district schools into “community schools” that rely on partnerships with businesses and non-profits to provide an array of services. The school buildings stay open until late into the night and on the weekends, providing early childhood centers, adult education, access to gyms, translation services, tutoring, and food banks to the general public. Local hospitals embed nurses in the schools full-time to provide free health, dental, and vision services.
As one of the first schools in Cincinnati to make the evolution, a decade ago, Oyler is seen as an anchor for the model. (more…)
June 27, 2012
When teachers’ union president Michael Mulgrew announced a grant program last month to bolster social services in schools, he said the union was moving ahead because the Department of Education was not.
But today, when Mulgrew announced the schools that will receive grants, Chancellor Dennis Walcott was standing next to him. The two came together in a last-day-of-school show of camaraderie after a year in which relations between the union and the city grew more strained than ever.
The joint appearance meant that amount of grant money awarded doubled, to $600,000, since Mulgrew’s May announcement. That will make it possible for six schools to bring health and dental clinics, tutoring, counseling programs, and social services to students and their families, as part of a pilot program to create “community schools.”
The UFT and Department of Education are each contributing $150,000, and the Partnership for New York City, a coalition of business groups, is adding another $300,000.
The initiative is based on a program in Cincinnati that coordinates and targets social services there. The goal is to harness existing services so they are used more effectively.
“We put enormous resources into our education system, into our healthcare system, and some of our other service systems, but we don’t do a very good job of maximizing the output,” said Kathryn Wylde, president of Partnership for New York City.
“We’ve had services for very long time in New York City. What we want to do now is start coordinating the services at the school site,” said Mulgrew, who was part of the team that began developing the initiative two years ago. (more…)
May 18, 2009
The special pot of federal stimulus dollars for schools known as the “Race to the Top” money should go toward extra services outside of education, like health clinics, child care, and immigration advice, teachers union president Randi Weingarten suggests in her latest paid New York Times column (PDF).
The idea is to infuse the federal stimulus effort with Weingarten’s favored “community schools” concept, in which schools function not just to teach children but also as service centers for the wider neighborhood around them. Weingarten calls the idea “a model for the best use of mayoral control.”
She also discloses that she has asked Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein to join the United Federation of Teachers in supporting the “broader, bolder mission” of what she is calling Active Communities Enabling Success, or ACES.
From the column:
The network of schools, open evenings and weekends, would be a locus for health and mental health services, either through the co-location of clinics, mobile clinics or partnerships with local providers and hospitals. After-school tutoring and enrichment programs would be closely aligned with the instructional day, but the schools would also include opportunities for exercise, sports, arts and culture, and community service. For families and members of the community, childcare, pre-school, ESL, GED and vocational classes would be available. Finally, referrals could be made for housing issues, employment opportunities, immigration issues and legal problems. …
And for those who say this approach tries to do everything but teach, that is far from the truth. There is no conflict between emphasizing academics and tending to children’s broader needs. For our most disadvantaged kids, our schools can and must do both.
The proposal is consistent with what Weingarten told me the day after the stimulus bill was announced in February. It’s also a part of broader efforts to tie better social services to mayoral control: A representative of one of the city’s oldest social service agencies told me she thought improved social services are the promise of mayoral control.
February 19, 2009
I asked teachers union head Randi Weingarten today whether she shares Mayor Bloomberg’s optimism that the city will be able to use its federal stimulus funds to avert thousands of threatened teacher layoffs. “I’m glad the mayor is optimistic,” Weingarten said. But she said the stimulus money is “a big, big step forward but not enough” to insulate schools and children from budget cuts this year. The video above shows Weingarten’s complete response.
Weingarten also told me she’s hopeful that the city will use some of its stimulus money to build up social services at some schools with particularly needy families. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan didn’t say today whether he’d like to see stimulus money used that way. But as the head of Chicago’s school system, Duncan promoted that city’s “community schools” model, where schools act as neighborhood centers that offer medical, mental health, and family support services. Weingarten pushed the model in her first speech as president of the national teachers union; that speech took place last July in Chicago.
February 4, 2009
Most supporters of mayoral control list similar reasons for why they prefer the governance structure: it consolidates accountability in a single person; it reduces corruption that can proliferate in a decentralized system. But there’s also a less prominent argument: that mayoral control could facilitate a new breed of full-service schools that tackle both poverty and low academic achievement.
Teachers union president Randi Weingarten made this argument last year when she said mayors could create “community schools” by linking city agencies in innovative ways. But I hadn’t heard it again until today, when I spoke with Katherine Eckstein, a public policy expert who works at the Children’s Aid Society, one of the city’s oldest social services agencies.
“When kids are hungry or depressed, or have no place to go, or have chronic medical problems, they have no way to take advantage of opportunities put before them,” she told me. Eckstein, the public policy director for the organization’s National Technical Assistance Center for Community Schools, said many services exist that can help students deal with such issues, but they are not always effectively delivered.
“I see this as the promise of mayoral control — harnessing the power of city agencies,” she said, adding that the Children’s Aid Society plans to promote this idea as the debate over mayoral control’s future picks up. (more…)
December 2, 2008
Another recommendation from the Suozzi report I wrote about earlier today, the one recommending ways for state schools to cut costs, is that the mayors of the Big Four cities — Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, and Yonkers — be granted control of their public school systems, like Mayor Bloomberg was in 2002. How could mayoral control cut school costs?
The commission makes two arguments. One is that handing control to the mayor would allow for more efficient spending. The schools could be linked with other services under the mayor’s purview, like parks, recreation, and social programs. The second argument is more long-term:
Most importantly, if mayoral control is successful in improving school performance, there may be a positive effect on economic development, retention of middle class families, and protection or expansion of the property tax base.
The arguments are interesting — especially because they provide two good yardsticks to measure New York City’s mayoral control experiment. (more…)
November 14, 2008
Randi Weingarten, the teachers union president, hopes to be known as an unconventional labor leader. She will be sending that signal strongly on Monday, in a speech at the National Press Club that she is hyping as a big deal — both to reporters and to D.C. education insiders. Mayor Bloomberg is introducing her speech, which is titled, “Making the Right Choices for Education and the Economy.”
Janet Bass, a spokeswoman for the American Federation of Teachers, the national union that Weingarten recently became president of (she’s holding onto her local New York City presidency too), told me that the speech will be “provocative”:
She’s going to be talking about provocative ways — interesting, unconventional ways — to improve schools and student achievement, and will be putting forth some recommendations that some people would not think are typical of a teachers union.
Any guesses on what Weingarten will endorse? Keep in mind that in her big speech accepting the presidency of the AFT, she promoted the idea of “community schools.” In case you’ve forgotten, below the jump is a video clip with the key description: (more…)