On October 27, 2015, a collaboration of community based organizations and educational advocacy groups announced the launch of the Coalition for Community School Excellence. The goal of the coalition is to ensure long-term success and sustainability for the community schools initiative by advocating for the needs of community schools and their leaders, families, and partner organizations. To celebrate the launch, partner organizations and the press toured P.S. 188, a school that exemplifies how community schools create positive change for high-needs students, families, and community members on the Lower East Side.
DE BLASIO ALLIES FORM COMMUNITY SCHOOLS GROUP TO PUSH CITY HALL—POLITICO New York’s Eliza Shapiro:
“Education advocates, school leaders and organizations have formed a new group called the Coalition for Community School Excellence, which will advise the city Department of Education on its new community schools. The DOE is in the process of opening at least 130 community schools, largely in low-income neighborhoods with social services for children and families, as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan for improving struggling schools. The Coalition is composed of diverse constituencies: it includes special education advocates such as Advocates for Children, the teachers’ union-backed group Alliance for Quality Education, local charter school Harlem RBI, and the Children’s Aid Society, among dozens of other groups.
A similar collection of advocates has been calling on the administration to formalize and strengthen its policies around community schools for nearly a year. Although the groups’ leaders are mainly de Blasio allies, some have privately expressed concerns about the city’s community schools plan. Up until just a few weeks ago, for example, the administration did not have an official policy around community schools, and informal policies did not include academic achievement as a primary goal of the program. Earlier this month, the city released a policy that includes academic improvement as a central tenet of the initiative. Advocates have also pushed the administration to define what ‘community schools’ — a national phenomenon praised particularly by teachers’ unions — mean in a New York City context. The DOE has since created a separate community schools office within the department.
The Coalition outlined another concern in its first press release on Tuesday: that of the tight deadline for community schools to show dramatic academic improvement. ‘The timeline for success is punishing,’ the press release reads. ‘Despite ample research showing that schools need at least 3-5 years to show improvement, many of these new community schools must show gains within one or two years or face being closed or reorganized.”