De Blasio Debuts School Renewal Program for NYC


New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently unveiled a new plan to fix 94 struggling public schools in the city.

Education officials had reportedly discussed a plan with the mayor to support 20 failing schools this summer, but de Blasio wanted to see a larger plan enacted that would encompass more schools.

De Blasio’s plan, The School Renewal Program, will accelerate progress within each struggling school, rather than closing or phasing them out.  Each school will become a Community School, featuring new services that will support the entire family, as well as their physical and mental health.  An extra hour of instruction will be provided each day and additional after-school, summer and weekend instruction may be offered.  Each school will also receive resources to help with academic intervention and teacher training.

The plan will take $150 million to fully invest in each school’s education capacity.  The end result will be rigorous instruction, a supportive environment, teachers who collaborate, and a school community that is strongly tied to its students and their families.

Implementation plans will be tailored by the Department of Education featuring strict goals.  The plans will track the progress of each school, and hold schools accountable to meet the goals laid out for them by a three-year deadline.  If the goals are not met, the schools may become subject to faculty change or an entire reorganization.

“We believe in strong public schools for every child,” de Blasio said. “Getting there means moving beyond the old playbook and investing the time, energy and resources to partner with communities and turn struggling schools around. We’re going to lift up students at nearly one hundred of our most challenged schools. We’ll give them the tools, the leadership and the support they need to succeed, and we’ll hold them accountable for delivering higher achievement.”

Participating schools include those deemed by the state as Priority or Focus Schools, that have shown low academic achievement for the past three years, and consistently rank in the bottom 25% of City schools on Math and ELA state exams or graduation rates.

“Today marks an unprecedented commitment to deliver for our schools that need extra support, and I know this will translate into real improvements in student outcomes,” Schools Chancellor Carmin Farina said. “With the right leadership, rigorous instruction, community partnerships, family engagement, and ongoing support, every school can be great. We will ensure our school communities are anchored in trust, and with the cooperation of all major stakeholders, we will support our schools-our students deserve no less, and I’m determined to get this right.”

The Community School model has proven to be successful in the past through mental health and social services and the participation of families to provide a holistic approach toward raising educational outcomes.  Each school will be individually matched with community organizations and a resource councelor, who will work full time to provide such resources as dentists, doctors, and mental health care.

School Renewal Plans will be created by the Spring of 2015.

De Blasio had previously worked on expanding the city’s preschool program in an effort to reduce income inequality.  However, in the end, the program actually increased the inequality as more preschools were expanding in high income neighborhoods than in low-income ones due to a higher number of parent applications and more physical space being available in these areas.