Contact: Adam Joseph
March 4, 2013
Citing their success at closing the achievement gap and empowering parents and other community stakeholders, Senate President Donald E. Williams, Jr. (D-Brooklyn) today testified before the General Assembly’s Education Committee in support of adding the Community School Model to the list of options school districts may utilize to turnaround low-performing schools.
“Last year we as a legislature, along with the Governor, made significant commitments to efforts to combat the social and economic disadvantages of our schools, our students and their families,” said Senator Williams. “We opened up 1000 new slots in early childhood education, new school based health clinics and family resource centers and we created new job training and hiring incentives for employers. This bill takes this process a step further by allowing local school districts to better identify challenges and opportunities and coordinate efforts to address them.”
Senate Bill 1002 provides a framework for improving our public schools by recognizing that no child and no school exists in a vacuum. Community schools draw upon partnerships within the surrounding community—they provide a collaborative and grassroots model rather than a top down approach.
This legislation allows local school districts to designate community schools in their districts, instructs them to conduct an audit of the current school resources, identify community resources that serve local students and their families, and develop a plan to coordinate these existing programs in a comprehensive and consistent manner.
“Community schools emphasize values beyond testing and evaluations,” said Senator Williams. “They recognize that children are best prepared to learn when they have had quality early childhood education and come to school ready to learn, when they are not hungry and have access to health care, when their parents are involved in their children’s education and have access to a Parent’s Academy to assist with continuing education and employment
Efforts nationwide to develop community schools have delivered results. In Cincinnati, Washington, D.C, Syracuse, Washington State, Maryland and California, researchers have found that community schools have contributed to higher attendance rates, higher rates of parent involvement, more job training for parents, lower rates of discipline problems, higher self-esteem for students, and increased academic achievement. All of these efforts have led to lower dropout rates, higher graduation rates and better economic opportunities for students and their families.
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