de Blasio to Expand Community School Initiative

Mayor de Blasio announced earlier this month that the DoE will expand the number of schools participating in his Community School Program, a program that provides low-performing schools with added resources, such as mental health, additional instruction time during the school day, and concentrated parental outreach. The program has only been an existence for two years, and while peformance results of those years have been mixed, the expansion seems worth it.

Students in participating schools are years below appropriate reading and/math levels. Depending on what grade a student is in, she could have been exposed to as much as 12 years of less than sub-par teaching/social support (or lack thereof). The impact of those years could be deleterious to the point that two years of support is likely not enough to rectify that damage. That is not to say that it would take 12 years to make up for the neglect but just that a mere two years is not sufficient to notice real positive change . During the time of a school’s poor performance, students are consistently experiencing, dealing with, and internalizing any combination of mental, social, familial, economic, and academic issues, which make up who they are at the moment these additional services come into play.

With that said, what is so admirable about the program is that it aims to help alleviate some of the burden that poverty places on students. The program acknowledges that poverty is an issue. Expanding the program would only provide researchers with a wider data set to validate the program’s level of success; whatever success is defined as.The Bloomberg administration, on the other hand, focused more at the macro-level: closing entire schools and replacing them with smaller traditional public or charter schools. Though I don’t enitrely disagree with this method, perhaps a combination of both closing schools and providing additonal support could be the way to go. Creating smaller classes sizes (not neccessarily smaller schools), revamping the faults of a failing school’s culture and providing additional support, seems to be a more cohesive, well rounded solution that treats school reform as more of a complex issue than de Blasio or Bloomberg’s policies do their own.

“Reforming schools is a complex, slow process. To rush it is to ruin it” – Pasi Sahlberg

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