“Community Engagement in NYC and the Sustainability Challenge for Urban Education Reform” is a lengthy paper by Jeffrey R. Henig, Teachers College, Columbia University, and several others.
I haven’t gotten a chance to look at it at length yet, but I like the introduction:
In New York City, the Bloomberg/Klein administration’s approach to parent and community
engagement was framed in contradistinction to the Community School Districts (CSDs) that
predated it; CSDs were rooted in a vision of a more collective and aggressive form of
engagement in which parents and communities directly set priorities, selected policies, and
shaped implementation. The administration considered this preexisting system to be
fundamentally flawed in both concept and practice.
In place of engagement at the community level, the administration’s approach centers on
engagement at the level of families and schools. In place of involvement in setting goals and
priorities, it focuses on engagement in implementation of policies. In place of emphasizing
political voice as a way for communities to exercise their demands, it puts a strong emphasis on
exit—giving families the option to choose a different school if they consider it a better fit for
their child than they one they are assigned. Finally, while the CSDs provided education‐specific
agenda‐setting venues in which parents and teachers were influential actors, the
administration’s position on mayoral control of schools deliberately shifts authority for agenda
setting and policymaking to general purpose politics and mayoral elections, where other issues
compete for priority, and where most groups do not have a direct stake in public education.