For years the public – parents, students, educators and community organizations – advocated for the growth of the community schools strategy in NYC. Now, with over 250 community schools in all five boroughs, the Mayor’s expansion is an ambitious answer to the public’s call. It is incumbent upon us all to help make community schools a success in the Big Apple.

The stakes could not be higher for the tens of thousands of children and their families in the city’s community schools; for the neighborhoods that have labored for years to strengthen their schools; for the community organizations whose reputation is tied to the outcomes of these schools; for the Mayor who has made community schools central to his education legacy; and for the national community schools movement, for whom NYC is the largest initiative in history.

Yet school improvement is the hardest thing that a school system does, and many community schools struggle with high absenteeism and/or low student achievement. A critical part of the community schools strategy in struggling schools is a comprehensive, research-based instructional strategy that is tightly coordinated and integrated with student support. Despite evidence showing that schools need at least 5 years to show real improvement, many of these new community schools must show gains quickly or face closure. There is an urgent need for advocacy to ensure high-quality execution immediately, and longer term sustainability.