Children at PS 192 in Manhattan will have access next fall to a variety of new academic, health and social service programs as the school becomes the 29th to join the UFT's Community Learning Schools Initiative.
“We are so pleased to have PS 192 join our Community Learning School family. We can’t wait to work with teachers and parents, students and staff, to find out what additions the school community wants that will help everyone succeed. Additions that are tailored to what PS 192 is already doing and wants to expand, and what PS 192 dreams of doing,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said during a visit to the West 138th Street elementary school.
The United Federation of Teachers began its Community Learning Schools Initiative (CLS) in the 2012-13 school year because of teachers’ concerns that students and their families had basic social and health needs that were not being met.
“Community schools recognize the basic reality that poverty deeply affects the ability of our children to learn. It’s hard to concentrate on your classes if your stomach is grumbling or you can’t afford your mental health medication, and so the services provided at community learning schools can be transformative in the life of students and their families,” said state Senator Marisol Alcantara, who helped secure state funding for the initiative. “I am overjoyed that the United Federation of Teachers will be implementing a community learning school program in my district at PS 192, and I look forward to our continued work together in the future.”
As part of the CLS program — which is funded by the state, the city, the UFT and private donors — a full-time community school director is hired by each school to secure and manages services in six areas: health and wellness, educator supports, academic supports, expanded learning time, parent supports and community outreach.
"Community schools are a model that works wonders for our children by meeting their needs both inside and outside of the classroom. It's always amazing to see what happens when a school revolves around a community and a community revolves around a school,” said state Senator Jeffrey Klein. “ I am glad that we were able to secure $500,000 in this year’s budget to continue the UFT’s vision on community schools and I thank Sen. Marisol Alcantara for her dedication to bringing this vision to life at PS 192, and UFT President Michael Mulgrew for his commitment to enhancing public education through community schools.”
The UFT launched the CLS pilot with six schools and initial funding from the union, the New York City Council, Trinity Wall Street and the Partnership for New York City.
“We are a school on the move, and being a Community Learning School will help us become even better,” Principal Hilduara Abreu told parents at the school’s holiday celebration.
A recent report by the National Education Policy Center and the Learning Policy Institute found “well-implemented community schools lead to improvement in student and school outcomes and contribute to meeting the educational needs of low-achieving students in high-poverty schools.”
“We make sure what CLS brings into a school community matches the needs defined by the school community, not mandated from above,” said UFT Vice President Karen Alford, who spearheads the CLS initiative for the UFT. “We then work to have these supports integrated into the school day, throughout the week and year. That’s the only way they have an impact.”