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October 27, 2017
Some Bronx students in crisis more likely to be sent to the hospital than a school social worker, advocates say
On a recent visit to a Bronx emergency room, Dejohn Jones witnessed something shocking: a young child who had apparently been removed from his school,…
A better way
March 14, 2017
Parents and city officials hope to tackle inequity in gifted education, specialized high schools
New York City's gifted programs and elite specialized high schools are starkly segregated.
Algebra for All
March 10, 2017
This Bronx elementary school is changing the way it teaches math — and it’s showing results
To make sure more students pass algebra by ninth grade, some New York City schools are changing the way fifth-graders are taught math.
July 23, 2015
In the district with the most ‘Renewal’ schools, a leader sets out to fix them
Chancellor Fariña has instructed district chiefs to form relationships with parents and earn principals' trust. District 9's Leticia Rodriguez-Rosario has set out to do both.
March 13, 2015
As Bronx district churns through new teachers, mentors learn how to help
A parent advocacy group, a national nonprofit, and the local superintendent started a training program for teacher-mentors in the Bronx's District 9.
December 9, 2013
De Blasio must end 'crisis' in Bronx school district, report says
Esperanza Vazquez and other members of the New Settlement Parent Action Committee, which released a new report Friday, at a District 9 rally in 2012. (Photo courtesy of New Settlement PAC.) Michelle Reyes recalls that when her oldest daughter attended school in the South Bronx’s District 9 in the early 90s, many of her classmates learned little and dropped out. Two decades later, when her youngest daughter was a district student, Reyes saw much of the same — many floundering schools and struggling students. By some measures, such as graduation and dropout rates, District 9 has advanced with the rest of the city since Mayor Bloomberg took office. But the district remains stubbornly among the city's very lowest performers, and a new report by a parent-led advocacy group and a think tank argues that the next administration must aggressively attack the district's long-term problems. The report, released Friday by the New Settlement Parent Action Committee and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, suggests several ways the de Blasio administration could do that, beginning by creating a district-level improvement plan with input gathered at public forums.
October 19, 2012
In a South Bronx district, parents want action on failing schools
P.S. 64 parents Symone Williams (right) and Natasha Campbell outside of the school Wednesday afternoon. Frustrated parents in one South Bronx district took to the streets Wednesday to raise awareness about the disproportionately high number of failing schools in the neighborhood. Among their requests: for the city to turn toward District 9 more often when deciding which schools to close. At P.S. 64, on 170th street, the parents protested during dismissal on a sidewalk just outside the courtyard where parents picked up their children. Next they marched up Webster Avenue to a building that houses two middle schools on the state's latest list of lowest-performing schools. The protest struck a nerve with several parents at the elementary school. They collided with the protesters on the sidewalk during dismissal, prompting some to share their own frustrations with P.S. 64. Valerie Fernandez said the homework that her fifth-grade son brought home hardly prepared him to think and write critically. One assignment he had earlier this year was to color in the countries of a world map, Fernandez said. "I think they should give the principal a chance, but cut the staff," said Fernandez. "The teachers, they just wait until they can go home." Another parent, Natasha Campbell, described the notebook that her daughter, who is in second-grade, brought home from school. Several assignments called for her to write her name down in the notebook over and over again, and now the pages are filled with her name, Campbell said.
November 2, 2011
Policy wonk-turned-producer explains new parent activism film
Producers of a new documentary about parent activism say they aim to inspire parents across the country to press for change. The film, "Parent Power," traces the organizing story that emanated from an effort to improve a single Bronx school in the mid-1990s and resulted in the citywide Coalition for Educational Justice. Set to premiere on Thursday, "Parent Power" was produced by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, which has long supported parent activism efforts, in collaboration with FPS Video Productions. (The premiere, at NYU's Cantor Film Center, is open to the public.) Filmmakers Norm Fruchter, an Annenberg Institute policy analyst, and Jose Gonzalez, a parent activist from the South Bronx, gathered 15 years of footage and photography of parent organizing efforts. They also interviewed teachers union president Randi Weingarten, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, parent activist Zakiyah Ansari, and others involved in supporting the parents' efforts. I spoke with Fruchter, who told me about the making of the movie, the origins of its story, and his hope that parent activists across the country tune in. JC: Where does this story begin? NF: [In 1996,] parents at the New Settlement Apartments in the South Bronx were concerned about their local elementary school.
September 13, 2011
Venerable social services group wades into school management
As a Bronx elementary school principal, Drema Brown routinely encountered students who were struggling to complete schoolwork without adequate health care, a stable address, or even electricity. Challenges like those held Brown back from boosting academic achievement. Even worse, she said, she couldn't solve the problems wrought by poverty, either. “I might take it for granted that I can just take my daughter to an eye doctor’s appointment and I have insurance that is going to get her that $300, $400 pair of glasses. But sometimes in a school something as simple as that could languish for an entire school year,” said Brown, who headed P.S. 230 in the South Bronx's District 9 from 2003 to 2007. Now a top official at the Children's Aid Society, the 158-year-old social services provider, Brown is leading an experiment in integrating health and social services into a school setting. Children's Aid is set to open its charter school in the Morrisania section of the Bronx next fall. The Board of Regents formally approved the school's charter earlier today. Plans for the school have been in the works since 2009, when Richard Buery became Children's Aid's president and CEO. Buery, who has a background in law and education non-profit management, asked CAS staff who worked with community schools to think about how a community school operated by CAS could have a longer-term impact than the agency’s usual school partnerships. The group already works with city schools to deliver social services and connect after-school programs. And since 2000 the group has run a full clinic in Morrisania, offering preventive services and a meeting place for families whose children are in foster care. But the new project marks Children's Aid's first venture into school management. The clinic “is a visible presence in the community with lots of welcoming faces," Brown said. "Our mission now is to a establish a school that feels the same way for kids and their families so that education becomes more attractive and a welcoming experience." That's a sentiment that hasn't always been present in the South Bronx, which has a longstanding reputation for poverty, crime and lackluster public schools.
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