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May 15 meeting recap: the auxiliary PTA

On May 15 we met at the Macon library and here’s what we talked about: 

 The Bed-Stuy Parent’s Committee will be one year old in June!

 We’ve learned so much together, and so much has happened since our last public meeting in January. We formed an Executive Board of ten people, clarified our mission, and started the process of becoming a 501(c)3 non-profit. Our big takeaway was that many of our schools have a LOT going on but need increased enrollment and increased parental involvement. 

 At our first party, BSPC members raised $2,000 for microgrants to help pay for the new bilingual library at Brighter Choice on Hart and Marcus Garvey, Lego Robotics training at PS 309 on Monroe and Patchen, and two digital microscopes for the science lab at PS 5 on Hancock St.

 Based on our school visits, conversations, research and feedback from BSPC members, we chose two awesome focus schools, Brighter Choice Community School and PS 309. We have about a half-dozen families enrolling at each of those schools for pre-K in the fall, and we’ll be devoting most of our energies toward helping those two schools. We are meeting with the principals there to identify needs we can help with through raising money, writing grants, and connecting them to programs like the Carnegie Hall Musical Explorers program. One of our major initiatives is to ensure that both those schools have excellent afterschool programs for pre-K students — a big service gap throughout our district. We’ve written numerous grants to support that program.

One board member who has a son going into K will enroll at PS 335 on Rochester between Bergen and St. Mark’s, which was not on our radar last year but will be going forward. That school has arts, karate, chess and already has afterschool for Pre-K students!

 We’ve also been writing grants for creative play from Kaboom! and asked for funding for a pre-K and elementary school fair where District 16 schools can present their strengths. We have done a lot of community outreach, introducing ourselves to groups that have been working for decades to make Bed-Stuy the great neighborhood we all love, including the Brownstoners, Restoration CDC, Bridge Street CDC, Concord Baptist Church, and others.

In the fall, we plan to continue our bedrock activities: school tours and membership meetings with a dynamic fall speaker series. (We asked what kind of speakers you’d like to hear; email Virginia if you have an idea).  

We are going to be talking a lot about fundraising, and doing a LOT OF FUNDRAISING. Why? Because in contrast to PTAs in wealthier parts of Brooklyn that raise hundreds of thousands or even a million a year, our PTAs are lucky if they raise hundreds of dollars a year. This is where we, as a sort of meta-PTA or auxiliary PTA, can really help. We have numerous fundraising initiatives that will require a lot of crowdsourcing as we begin to roll them out, including a community bake sale that we hope to hold in conjunction with the Brownstoners’ awesome annual Bed-Stuy homes tour (modeled after a school in Clinton Hill that holds a very successful bake sale on Marathon Day). Yo Re Mi will do a fundraising class for us on June 4 at 10 a.m. at the Mansion on Stuyvesant and Decatur. We are starting an initiative to persuade real estate brokers to donate a percentage of commissions to us on behalf of their buyers or sellers through a program called Shelter Helps. We will be asking local developers and business owners to contribute as well.  We will be issuing calls to participate in these programs as they get started.

 As soon as we are an official non-profit, we will be conducting a membership drive with a pay-what-you-can membership. This is important because public officials and others we meet always want to know: how many members do you have? Right now, we can only point them to the Facebook page, with over 300 members, and the mailing list, with almost 300 members. That’s not quite the same as actual civic members. Michelle will also be doing outreach to more parents in the district.

Our website has new resources for parents, including a public school primer for parents who need to know where to start. Parent recommendations for local daycares and other family-friendly amenities coming soon.

 Kyle is our volunteer coordinator working on ways we can help local schools. (Example: PS 309 wrote a school song; and BSPC is now helping them make a professional recording and video. Stay tuned for the premiere! ) Volunteering can also be much less of a commitment — you can stop in and read books to kids or act as a recess coach. This Wednesday May 25th is our first big volunteering event: The inaugural District 16 Science Fair. We are looking for people to help set things up at 4 and a few break things down at 7. The event will be held at MS 383 on the corner of Stuyvensant and Layfayette. Email Kyle to find out more.

 

Just between us

At our December meeting, there was a new couple I didn’t recognize. I asked how old their kid was, and they told me the baby hadn’t been born yet.  I’ve thought about the in-utero couple a lot since then, even though, since I get nervous before meetings, I can’t remember their names or what they look like. They were probably deeply confused and may never show up again.  But I have continued to struggle with how to include new people, whose voices and input and participation we want to encourage, in the intense and valuable conversation — or, really, conversations — we have been having for seven months now.

So I thought I’d take a moment, to set down some things I think we’ve learned — or at least that I’ve learned. Many of you probably already knew a lot of this, and some of this is my opinion but it’s also a synthesis of what I’ve heard from you.

My own attitudes have changed drastically since I started this process. Then, I was pissed off and I wanted to hold someone accountable for the dismal state of the schools in District 16, which at that point I had never even set foot in. Now, I’m still pissed off, but I recognize that we, as much as anyone, are responsible for the state of the schools in our own community.

Then, I was a maximizer who, despite starting this group, would send my child to the best school I could get him into, no matter how far. Now, partly because of this group, I would prioritize sending my child to a neighborhood school above a dazzling Park Slope or Fort Greene school.  Then, when I heard about a proposal to start a new public school in Bed-Stuy, I was automatically in favor of it. I would not be in favor of it now. Here’s why:

District 16 is a great opportunity. While we can learn much from the many struggles over gentrification and school overcrowding elsewhere in the city, which many of us have watched closely, the issues in District 16 are distinct and largely stem from a steady decrease in enrollment district-wide as many parents have chosen charter schools (44 percent of total enrollment in our district is in charter schools), or public and private schools elsewhere. That means any fights about overcrowding, zoning lines, or displacement are a long way off. We’ve learned that schools can transform and enrollment declines can be reversed fairly quickly. Now that there is renewed energy on the Community Education Council (basically our neighborhood school board, which until fairly recently was defunct) and a new district superintendent, the stars are aligned for positive change here.

Here is some good news about District 16. The most glaring issues are simple ones. Whether you are committed to principles like educational equity (all children deserve an equally rich education) and integration (racial and economic), or you simply would like a great neighborhood option for your child, the action required is largely the same. These schools suffer from low enrollment, which means just enrolling our children here will go a long way. These schools suffer from low parent involvement, which means getting involved will go a long way. (And I certainly do not mean there are no dedicated parents working on behalf of these schools — there are, and we have met some of them. There just could be a lot more.) The evidence is pretty clear that more diverse schools (here, again, I’m talking about socioeconomic as well as racial diversity) are better schools. If test scores are what you care about, they have better test scores, too. District 16 doesn’t have issues with space; our schools have beautiful auditoriums, full-sized gymnasiums and immaculate recess yards. So we could basically say, we’re going to enroll our kids and attend PTA meetings, and that alone would have a measurable effect, even if we didn’t do anything else at all.

What makes a great school. We have learned what makes a great school: excellent leadership and involved parents. Those are the key factors. We bring one to the table. The other, I think we have learned, already exists here in Bed-Stuy.

The value of a neighborhood school. Even if you have options — if you get a coveted spot at the Brooklyn New School, for example, or you can afford to send your child to a wonderful private school — distance is a price worth considering. Many of the parents of older children who have counseled me throughout this have said that sending their children outside the neighborhood came at great cost, both to their children and to the larger community. As Councilman Robert Cornegy eloquently put it, there is “social suffering” when children go outside their neighborhood for school: “In their own community, they become inept. And this is a great community.” Here is what I want to know: can that glittering school over in LaDiDa neighborhood really be THAT much better than a school a few blocks from your front door that you embrace and help to nurture? Given what I have seen from this group, as well as the many other stakeholders in Bed-Stuy, I rather think not. This is not meant to be a guilt trip of any kind — I expect every parent to send their kids where they think best. My definition of what “best” is has simply been enlarged.

A significant part of our effort should be focused on other parents. As many of you know, of all the articles we have read together I was most struck by this one. If it weren’t for BSPC, I may never have toured a single neighborhood school, and I believe the same is true of many of you. Yet together we have seen schools where children publish their own books, schools where students choose a social justice project every spring, schools rehearsing their production of the Lion King and schools where peer mediators solve disputes. Next month we will tour a school where the children create their own museums. Part of our role, I have come to realize, is to encourage parents to think of District 16 schools as potential choices. We should continue to provide service-oriented events like the talk on public school admissions next week, and I can also envision future events such as a public school fair to introduce parents to D16 schools. We should facilitate volunteering at local schools and help with district projects. When I moved here and shortly afterwards had a baby, I asked every parent I saw where their children went to school. The answer was almost never District 16. We can change that.

What about progressive education? From the first meeting on, many of us have expressed an interest in progressive education. We learned that progressive education takes many forms. That does not make it a meaningless term, but it does mean that terrific schools can be a mix of progressive and traditional attitudes and pedagogy (something we saw at PS11). It also means that schools can implement certain progressive programs, such as restorative justice, or community studies, or project-based learning, that are right for them without being fully progressive. Several principals have expressed to us at least an openness to moving toward more progressive strategies, and at Brighter Choice and 309 we saw a lot of those ideas in practice. In my opinion, it would behoove the district to brand one school (or more) as a particularly progressive choice, and help it move in that direction, and in the current climate I can see that happening. I also think that the parents at a school can push it in that direction or build consensus around particular progressive programs that are suited for that school, especially if the principal shares that desire. (At Sunday’s meeting, Alie added a great point — that the district as a whole is moving toward progressive strategies.)

This is an awesome group of people. When I called the first meeting of what would become BSPC, I had no idea what to expect. The most important result was that a lot of you showed up, or you emailed to cheer us on. On top of that, you were thoughtful, brave, and full of ideas and resources. Not only have I learned a lot from you, to my constant amazement, you continue to show up — I see you guys at CEC meetings, at school tours, at our meetings and I know some have you have attended education-related events around the city. By that measure, and it is no small measure, everything we have done so far has been a success. Everyone has intuitively grasped the importance of this from the beginning, and it has paid off — showing up has earned us a place at the table.

Exploring our options

At our first meeting, we outlined some possible approaches that included everything from starting a new public school or charter (highest effort level) to simply partnering with an existing school (path of least resistance). We also wanted to look at things that could be done to enhance existing schools, such as starting a dual language program or applying for magnet funds. So a group of members who gracefully accepted the ungainly moniker “Options Research Team” did some further research, and it is being posted in preparation for our next meeting (January 10).

 

Dual Language (Researched by Catee, Taka, and Anne)

Definition half the class time is taught in English, the other half in the foreign language

Process in Brief

  1. build a network of people interested in starting a dual language program to build network and support
  2. find a under-enrolled school or a school going through change, etc. with receptive principles/administrators willing to sponsor the program at the school
  3. after finding a school… a) apply to grants to fund our program b) find a great teacher for the first class c) find curricular resources d) recruit for the first class for both native and non-native speakers
  4. student enrollment a) need enough students, non-fluent and fluent to apply to the program.
  5. Expansion
    a) continue applying for additional dual language classes to be added to the school

 

Other Considerations

=class must be min. 24 students 50% fluent / 50% non fluent

=Fall 2015 40 new dual language schools opened 25 are new, 15 expand existing programs

=DOE Grant $25,000 -Each new seat = additional $ from the DOE. $200,000/year for a class of 24 students.

=dual language program does not necessary create a successful school (case by case, class by class basis)

 

“Complete” Online How to Guide

http://api.ning.com/files/uGug8jV2T3g0iF3pHeV2SfsfvpWCQZvGLW0W-BYVzklE1rmlyGu50ZJaTNX5Bq*C3kYjSE2IJp*zD20k2mEArN*RtqnGfurX/RoadMaptoCreateaFrenchDLP.pdf

 

Other Resources

http://frenchculture.org/

http://www.efny.net/dual-language-program/description/

https://wdlp.wordpress.com

http://www.newyorkinfrench.net/profiles/blogs/how-many-new-yorkers-speak-french-at-home-1#.ViP722BuaUC
[Note: On the survey, which asked a question about which languages are spoken at home, very few households listed a language other than English.]

Magnet (researched by Juliana plus some additions from Nicole)

 

Definition

=Magnet School – A school that receives government funds for special programs that will attract students from many neighborhoods to achieve racial integration and fill the school. (http://www.nycschoolhelp.com/elementary-glossary/)

=Magnet grants are designed to create new and innovative thematic programs within a school and foster diversity. A Magnet School is a ‘choice’ school which means that it is open to both zoned and non-zoned students.

 

Pedagogical Approach

=Magnet schools have a focused theme and aligned curricula in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), Fine and Performing Arts, International Baccalaureate, International Studies, MicroSociety, Career and Technical Education (CTE), World Languages (immersion and non-immersion) and many others. Magnet schools are typically more “hands on – minds on” and use an approach to learning that is inquiry or performance/project based. (from Magnet Schools of America http://www.magnet.edu/about/what-are-magnet-schools

 

Process

=Eligibility from http://www2.ed.gov/programs/magnet/eligibility.html

Who May Apply: (by category) Local Education Agencies

Who May Apply: (specifically) Only LEAs or consortia of LEAs that are implementing court-ordered or federally approved voluntary desegregation plans that include magnet schools are eligible to apply. Private schools do not participate in this program.

A local educational agency, or consortium of such agencies where appropriate, is eligible to receive a grant under the Magnet Schools Assistance Program to carry out the purpose of the Magnet Schools Assistance Program if such agency or consortium–

  1. is implementing a plan undertaken pursuant to a final order issued by a court of the United States, or a court of any State, or any other State agency or official of competent jurisdiction, that requires the desegregation of minority-group-segregated children or faculty in the elementary schools and secondary schools of such agency; or
  2. without having been required to do so, has adopted and is implementing, or will, if a grant is awarded to such local educational agency, or consortium of such agencies, under this part, adopt and implement a plan that has been approved by the Secretary as adequate under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for the desegregation of minority-group-segregated children or faculty in such schools.

 

=Detailed archived application information from the Dept of Ed (from 2013) including a link to a pre-application webinar PowerPoint http://www2.ed.gov/programs/magnet/appandcomfy13.html

 

=Magnet Schools of America suggests that a comprehensive magnet school plan include vision and mission statements, educational goals, objectives and strategies, curriculum or theme design, implementation steps, marketing and recruitment strategies, budget and funding plans, timelines, policies, professional development plans, and monitoring and evaluation plans.

It requires:

  1. creating a focused vision and program mission that will drive a robust implementation plan and sustain commitment.
  2. dealing with issues of funds and transportation
  3. selecting strong leaders and quality staff willing to work long hours
  4. getting people in the community involved
  5. recruiting resources.

 

=Districts can also benefit from contacting superintendents, magnet specialists, and magnet principals in districts of similar size and circumstances who can share lessons learned about which themes have worked best and why, how to set up data infrastructures, parent communication processes, and transportation. Hamilton sent staff and other stakeholders to magnet schools in other districts, both near and far, to get ideas and solicit help in planning their own magnet schools.

  • Choose appealing and sustainable themes
  • Select and develop quality staff • Cultivate community resources
  • Define special roles
  • Build district support

 

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/12/31/2012-31434/applications-for-new-awards-magnet-schools-assistance-program#h-16

http://www.msapcenter.com/faq.aspx

 

Noteworthy Magnet Examples

=Brooklyn Arbor (adopt the theme of global and ethical studies)

http://www.brooklynarbor.org/

=P.S. 307 (located between DUMBO and Downtown) is the recent recipient of a federal Magnet grant that will bring with it millions of dollars of additional funding and will transform the school into the science and technology-themed Magnet School for STEM Studies starting in the 2014-15 school year.

http://dobroschools.org/new-prek-5-stem-magnet-school-nearbycheck-it-out/

=Nine years ago P.S. 8 received a magnet grant and was transformed by a great principal into the highly sought-after school that it is today.

=PS 257 in Williamsburg, Magnet School for the Performing Arts

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/17/education/brooklyn-magnet-schools-see-hurdles-to-integration-even-in-kindergarten.html?_r=0

=Magnet School Of Math Science & Design Tech: PS 10

=PS 261 had a magnet grant for the arts years ago.

 

Other Resources

http://www.publicschoolreview.com/blog/what-is-a-magnet-school

http://www.d3mag.net/about

 

Starting a New Public School

 

The DOE has placed a moratorium on new public schools.

 

Starting a New Charter School

 

There are still new charters available for Brooklyn. However, no one in the group seems inclined to do the intense work of starting a new charter school, nor do we know of any new charter schools in the pipeline that reflect the group’s educational values and could be enticed to Bed-Stuy. Therefore, this option was not fully explored.

 

We’re in the news!

Hello parents,

Here’s an article on the Bed-Stuy Parents Committee!

Our next meeting is Monday, Nov. 9 at 6:30 p.m. District 16 Superintendent Evelyn Santiago and Dist. 16 Community Education Council President NeQuan McLean will be the speakers. The meeting will be held at St. Philip’s Church, 265 Decatur St. We plan to have childcare available, but have not confirmed yet that there are facilities for this, so please check back. (We suggest a small donation to cover the costs of child care).

Please join the conversation on our lively Facebook page.

The best way to find out about future meetings and events is to join our mailing list.

Questions? Email us at bedstuyparentscommittee@gmail.com

This website is undergoing improvements but for now, scroll down to find recaps of our earlier meetings, suggested readings on District 16 and on progressive education.

Welcome!

Third meeting recap

The meeting opened with Shaila’s comments on what great support and interest there has been in BSPC, and how thoughtful everyone has been as they proceed. The subcommittee teams are in place (though some still could use volunteers) and beginning their tasks.

Alie helped us define some guidelines for BSPC in order to maintain a positive, respectful conversation on sensitive topics that the group will discuss. We came up with the following guidelines:

1. BSPC meetings are a safe space to speak your mind and open your mind.

2. Stick to “I” statements rather than “You” statements.

3. Default to trust and forgive.

4. Keep cell phones off during meetings.

5. Stay aware of your tone.

6. Keep our common goal/mission in mind.

7. Address each other by name.

We had updates from our team leaders:

Community Outreach

Goal: Publicize our efforts and meetings, making sure our message gets out via social media, neighborhood groups and other means. We want anyone who would be interested in this to find out about it and get involved.

Shaila reported that BSPC FaceBook page and Instagram are up and running. Members suggested circulating a flyer about BSPC at the upcoming Halloween Trick-or-Treat event at Fulton on October 31st.

Political Outreach

Goal: Make contact and common cause with community leaders, politicians, parent leaders, interested groups such as Brooklyn Movement Center.

EJ reported that she has reached out to 36th District council member, Robert Cornegy. There was discussion of getting in touch with NYC School Chancellor, Carmen Farina as well as members of The Community Education Council for D16 (CEC 16). On the surface, CEC 16 does not appear to be very active, but the group will investigate further. Sara has made contact with the Brooklyn Movement Center which is an organization that was involved in a recent study of how to improve achievement in D16 schools.

Options Research

Goal: Do more complete and definitive research on various potential options such as creating a new school, creating a dual language program, etc. Is there really a cap on charters? When is the next round of magnet school applications? What are the possibilities for afterschool program grants? Converse with parents in other districts and perhaps bring in more speakers to the group.

Nicole’s group is checking into options including dual language, magnet, charter, gifted & talented etc. During Nicole’s update, members brought up that it would be good to get in touch with Brooklyn New School as they were considering D16 as a possible location for BNS earlier on and may be able to guide the group on the setting up a school with a similar program in D16. Another suggestion was made to get in touch with Eric Grannis, who runs the Tapestry Project which looks to build community support for charter schools and who is also the husband of Eva Moskowitz of Success Academies charter network. EJ said she would reach out to him.

School Outreach

Goal: Identify existing schools of interest, schedule tours, initiate contact with principals so that BSPC members can get to know the schools. Listen to the needs of particular schools.

Rachel reported that the team has sent letters to local schools letting the schools know about BSPC and that the group is interested in touring local schools. They are in the process of setting up tours with the various schools and are in need of additional volunteers dedicated following up with a particular school.

As the meeting wrapped up there were a few questions about what is meant by the term progressive education. Some of the group’s comments included that, among other things, progressive education philosophy is democratic and based on the idea that education is a part of life, in contrast to the traditional view that education prepares students for life. There are links on the topic of progressive education on the BSPC’s website.

The conversation then evolved into a discussion of whether progressive education options in D16 is primary objective of the group or if the group’s objective is to improve and expand public school options in D16, whether progressive or not. Some members expressed that progressive education was not their primary goal, but having a welcoming neighborhood school was more important. Jake volunteered to set up a survey for the group to help define the mission.

Shaila wanted a one-line slogan to put on the publicity materials — after a brief discussion the general consensus was NOT to include the word progressive. Michelle, a lifelong Bed-Stuy resident, made the point that in her experience the public schools in Bed-Stuy have been a problem for decades and reminded us that it is not new and parents, including her own, have long struggled with where to send their kids to school.

Progressive Education — an Intro

Many parents at our first meeting expressed an interest in progressive principles, and in learning more about them. Here’s some readings and links to get started:

This report on District 16 and current efforts to improve it is well worth checking out:

http://www.brooklyncommunityfoundation.org/programs-impact/special-initiatives/school-district-16-project

A simple chart comparing the characteristics of traditional and progressive education.

A selection of articles on progressive education topics from Bank Street School in Manhattan, including this overview of why it’s great, but rare.

A short bio of philosopher and educator John Dewey, with further reading.

This is the website of the National Association of Independent Schools, which has a research clearinghouse.

The Independent Curriculum Group focuses on progressive curricula and assessments.

Some additional links:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h11u3vtcpaY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXpbONjV1Jc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEvg2zBYWtU

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/30/brooklyn-free-school-_n_2214263.html

June 6 Meeting Recap

Greetings, parents! As you may know, we called a meeting Saturday for parents interested in improving Bed-Stuy’s public schools. More than 20 parents attended, with probably half as many more writing to say they were unable to attend but interested in getting involved. That’s a lot of energy and talent, and we haven’t even done any real outreach yet! We also have, thanks to Rahwa, this WordPress site and a mailing list! Aaaaannnd (drum roll please) we have action items! Scroll down for those.

We began the meeting with introductions and most parents expressed an interest in a progressive, local option for public school for their child. (We had lots of toddlers on down to tiny babies present).

We then had a quick overview of District 16 grade schools. In short, the district lacks many of the education options available in other areas. We have no gifted & talented classrooms, no dual language programs, and no magnet schools. All of our elementary schools are underenrolled and below capacity, because many parents look outside the district for better schools. Underenrollment leads to underfunding.

Other than charters, we have only one unzoned school, the Brownstone School. (Most schools serve a geographical zone; unzoned schools can take students from a broader area. Arts and Letters in Fort Greene, for example, is an unzoned magnet school that gives preference to kids in District 13, and is so popular that kids from other districts basically can’t get in. District 16 does not have a school like that.)

We then went over options for change:

1) Start a new school.

One instructive example is the Brownstone School, started by Bed-Stuy parents who wanted a progressive alternative. However, according to one of the founders, the group did not adequately define what it meant by progressive or enshrine progressive philosophy into the design of the school, and the parents who started it did not have a critical mass of children the right age to attend the school when it opened and ended up sending their children elsewhere. (This is one reason we set up the group primarily for parents of children four and under.) There was also a timing issue — the school was given the green light in June to open in September, not enough lead time. (On the other hand, this founding parent said, the principal is very responsive to the desires of the parents at the school.)

Pros: design philosophy and curriculum from scratch, hire staff from scratch.

Cons: The current Chancellor has not yet put a process in place to propose a new school; the previous process has been dismantled.

1a) A teacher who lives in Bed-Stuy has proposed to start a satellite campus of an existing school, the Brooklyn New School. However, this idea also lacks a model or a clear process, and the prospects are unclear.

2) Start an independent charter school

Pros: design philosophy and curriculum from scratch, hire staff from scratch.

Cons: There is currently a state cap on the number of charters. No new charters until the cap is lifted — which is politically possible but hasn’t happened yet.

3) Start a program at an existing school: Gifted and Talented (for children that score above a certain cut-off point on the G&T test), Dual Language (children are taught immersively in two languages) or Magnet (magnet schools have a special focus, like technology or the arts, receive federal funding to serve historically underserved communities, and are unzoned — any city residents can attend regardless of address. The next round of applications to become magnet comes in 2016).

Pros: leverage since the district has none of these. Ability to shape the curriculum and push it towards the progressive end of the spectrum. Magnet brings an influx of money to the school. G&T may be embraced by broad segments of the community. Also may have political ally since apparently our councilman, who did not return our emails about this meeting, is interested in expanding these programs in the district and the education committee of the Community Board would also provide support for such an effort. (As a side note, the district superintendent has not been very responsive).

Cons: G&T is restricted to children that score well enough on the test. Dual Language is challenging because teachers are hard to find.

4) “Adopt” a school. Choose one school and form a “friends” group to support/fundraise there, even before kids are old enough to go. Everyone enrolls their children there and gets involved in PTA and School Leadership Team (elected parents who are part of the governing body setting school policy). Look for a school with a receptive principal.

An example of this is P.S. 11 in Clinton Hill, where parents formed a Friends of P.S. 11 group. There was no special program started, but the principal was replaced by a progressive principal and the school became highly desirable with a long waiting list though it remains a zoned school (anyone can apply to a zoned school even if they do not live in the zone). However, the transition was rough and conflict-laden.

Pros: Buy-in from district, Department of Education, politicians, etc. is not required. Schools can transform quickly and there are several examples of this. An “adopted” school could also eventually develop a G&T, dual language or magnet program.

Cons: Change is gradual and incremental.

After this overview, there was a general discussion and questions. Michelle, a teacher in central Brooklyn, advised that School Leadership Team meetings are open to the public and the meetings must take place ten times a year. This group is made up of teachers, administrators, parents and sometimes students. Michelle also informed us that districts in central Brooklyn have highest number of charter schools in city & highest number of homeless shelters; thus, public schools service very under-resourced communities. She said that principals have a new contract that gives them an incentive to retire this year.

It was decided for the purposes of conveying strength and developing a public identity, the group should become a committee, the Bed-Stuy Parents Committee.

ACTION ITEMS

Many of those present expressed interest in “adopting” a school, so it was suggested that parents try to scope out some neighborhood schools before the end of the year. Schools mentioned included the Brownstone School, P.S. 262 (El Shabazz), P.S. 21 (Crispus Attucks), P.S. 5 (Ronald McNair) and others. Attempts will be made to set up tours at some of these schools and the information relayed to the group.

PS 5 is already having an open house this

week:

P.S. 5 Dr. Ronald McNair School

820 Hancock St.

School Tour

Thursday, June 11 from from 9 a.m. to noon.

It was agreed that members of the group should become more visible at public meetings on education. And, lo and behold, there is one coming up:

Education Town Hall

Thursday, June 18

6:30 to 8:30

St Francis de Sales School for the Deaf

260 Eastern Parkway

to be attended by members of Congress, the State Assembly, the City Council, and the BED-STUY PARENTS COMMITTEE!

Lastly, Rachel suggested that the concept progressive education be more thoroughly discussed and defined at the next meeting, to be held (by popular demand) in July. We may invite presenters to speak to us; if you have a good idea for a speaker on progressive education, please email it in. We will follow with a group discussion with some help from Alie.

About

The Bed-Stuy Parents Committee was created on June 6, 2015 by parents interested in improving the range of public school options in District 16. The committee welcomes all parents but is geared toward those with children aged 4 and under and has a strong bent toward progressive education.

Join the Committee!

Thanks for visiting our site! Please JOIN the Bed-Stuy Parents Committee by using the below link. It may take several minutes to receive the sign up confirmation e-mail, but please open it and confirm that you want to sign up to the list (otherwise you won’t receive our emails, with important updates about meetings and events).

http://eepurl.com/bpEDC5