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January 29, 2013

BMC Makes the Case for Investing in Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights Schools

Raising the Stakes
Raising the Stakes

After a year of research and conversations with hundreds of local and city-wide stakeholders, the Brooklyn Movement Center released a long anticipated report that proposes collaboration between local schools, neighborhood institutions, and philanthropic institutions. The report is the result of a partnership between the BMC, the Black Male Donor Collaborative, and the Brooklyn Community Foundation.

The BMC report proposes identifying a cohort of nine public schools, incentivizing work between them, and providing supportive out-of-school-time programming that will be focused on creating a meaningful and nurturing Kindergarten through 12th grade pipeline.

Specifically, the BMC report focuses on the 26 traditional public schools that make up Community School District 16, which encompasses the eastern half of Bedford-Stuyvesant and a small section of northeastern Crown Heights.

It’s easy to make the case that CSD16 is an economically challenged district that is consistently low performing. CSD 16 ranks 611 out of 697 school districts in New York State based on average reading and math test scores. None of the middle schools in CSD16 are in the top quartile of middle schools in New York City. And only 50% of the students in the district who were in grade nine in 2006-2007 received Regents diplomas in 2010-11. The four high schools that recorded College and Career Readiness scores had student readiness percentages ranging between 0.0 and 5.1, which were among the lowest in the entire New York City school system.

But despite its considerable challenges, CSD16 is primed for collaboration and working relationships with philanthropic and community partners. Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights have a highly civically engaged population with deep reservoirs of social capital. For instance, the voter registration rate for citizens age 18 and above is almost 30% higher in Bedford-Stuyvesant than the borough of Brooklyn as a whole.

Perhaps most importantly, there is currently underway a local conversation in Central Brooklyn around improving the educational terrain that is particularly promising. For instance, last fall a prominent education advocacy group began organizing an education summit held at Boys and Girls High School which has attracted hundreds of parents and dozens of self-identified community leaders. A recent tour of CSD16 schools, in which more than 20 philanthropies and Central Brooklyn activists participated, served to connect several community-based organizations around the idea of collaborating to change academic and social outcomes for CSD16 students.

Seeking to have an impact on any cluster of schools, not to mention an entire school district, is a daunting task. However, relative to other community school districts in New York, CSD16 represents a small, more manageable, area in which to focus investments and collaborative efforts. This offers an opportunity for philanthropic and community leaders alike to work with a relatively small amount of schools and students that share a common neighborhood and demographic identity.

We hope this report helps to provide a blueprint for the rebuilding of our public schools in Central Brooklyn.

RAISING THE STAKES: Investing in a Community School Model to Lift Student Achievement in Community School District 16 by DoGoodBklyn

About this author

Mark Winston Griffith

Mark Winston Griffith

Prior to coming on staff at the Brooklyn Movement Center, Mark was on the Faculty of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and was most recently the field organizer for the MOVE NY campaign. A Central Brooklyn native, Mark Winston Griffith is the former Executive Director and Senior Fellow for Economic Justice at the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, and the former co-director of the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project. In the early nineties he co-founded the Central Brooklyn Partnership and Central Brooklyn Federal Credit Union. He currently serves on the boards of the Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union, Center for an Urban Future, the Center for Working Families, Little Sun People and Free Speech TV. Mark loves spending time with his family, running the streets of New York like a steeplechase, and describing how he acquired the 18 inch scar that runs the length of his spine.

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