It has been 5 years since NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s pledge to create more than 100 new fully developed Community Schools. This transformative push has ushered in a massive re-imagination of what it means to receive an education in NYC, what systemic obstacles are posed to students, and how the education of a child depends on the strengths of the community which surrounds them. Drawing upon principles of holistic health and care, Community Schools have become centers of opportunity in neighborhoods; places where families, with whatever challenges they bring, can receive the support they need to make sure students can come to school ready and able to learn. The newest release of The Rand Corporation’s Impact study provides concrete evidence which attributes the increase in graduation rates and student achievement as well as reducing chronic absenteeism and disciplinary incidents to the Community School model.
As an organization with 33 years of experience developing anti-racist, anti-oppressive practices; implementing strength-based counseling programs for children and families; building strong relationships with community leaders; partnering with school administrators to improve outcomes; and providing a range of professional development services, Counseling in Schools is a proud contributor to the success of the Community School model.
The Rand report infers that when schools address inequities in areas such as access to health care, affordable and healthy food, learning opportunities, and trustworthy relationships, students succeed. Counseling in Schools has experienced the impact of these changes firsthand. Our dedicated staff has been instrumental in addressing: attendance improvement/dropout prevention, violence prevention, burnout prevention for staff, school transformation, crisis response, out-of-school time youth development, social/emotional literacy, socio-cultural trauma and oppression. During our tenure at Brooklyn Collegiate we’ve been successful in increasing graduation rates from 64% in 2014 to 95% in 2018. At The Bronx Math Preparatory Middle School, we reduced the number of students missing 20 or more days (chronic absenteeism) by 7%, while increasing the annual attendance by 2.5% between the 17-18 and 18 -19 school years. At Middle School 354, The School of Integrated Learning, the percentage of students meeting the State Standards in Math and English increased by 15% between the 16 – 17 and 18 – 19 school years.
Counseling in Schools’ personal experience as well as the recent findings of the Impact Evaluation, has made clear that Community Schools are critical to making NYC a more equitable and educationally excellent city. By investing in communities that have been marginalized by historical disinvestment and and recognizing that student success is impacted both by factors outside of school and by what happens in the classroom, Community Schools have placed NYC at the forefront of a national movement focused on a holistic and comprehensive approach to education in urban centers.