Third meeting recap

The meeting opened with Shaila’s comments on what great support and interest there has been in BSPC, and how thoughtful everyone has been as they proceed. The subcommittee teams are in place (though some still could use volunteers) and beginning their tasks. Alie helped us define some guidelines for BSPC in order to maintain a positive, respectful conversation on sensitive topics that the group will discuss. We came up with the following guidelines:

1. BSPC meetings are a safe space to speak your mind and open your mind.

2. Stick to “I” statements rather than “You” statements.

3. Default to trust and forgive.

4. Keep cell phones off during meetings.

5. Stay aware of your tone.

6. Keep our common goal/mission in mind.

7. Address each other by name.

We had updates from our team leaders:

Community Outreach

Goal: Publicize our efforts and meetings, making sure our message gets out via social media, neighborhood groups and other means. We want anyone who would be interested in this to find out about it and get involved.

Shaila reported that BSPC FaceBook page and Instagram are up and running. Members suggested circulating a flyer about BSPC at the upcoming Halloween Trick-or-Treat event at Fulton on October 31st.

Political Outreach

Goal: Make contact and common cause with community leaders, politicians, parent leaders, interested groups such as Brooklyn Movement Center.

EJ reported that she has reached out to 36th District council member, Robert Cornegy. There was discussion of getting in touch with NYC School Chancellor, Carmen Farina as well as members of The Community Education Council for D16 (CEC 16). On the surface, CEC 16 does not appear to be very active, but the group will investigate further. Sara has made contact with the Brooklyn Movement Center which is an organization that was involved in a recent study of how to improve achievement in D16 schools.

Options Research

Goal: Do more complete and definitive research on various potential options such as creating a new school, creating a dual language program, etc. Is there really a cap on charters? When is the next round of magnet school applications? What are the possibilities for afterschool program grants? Converse with parents in other districts and perhaps bring in more speakers to the group.

Nicole’s group is checking into options including dual language, magnet, charter, gifted & talented etc. During Nicole’s update, members brought up that it would be good to get in touch with Brooklyn New School as they were considering D16 as a possible location for BNS earlier on and may be able to guide the group on the setting up a school with a similar program in D16. Another suggestion was made to get in touch with Eric Grannis, who runs the Tapestry Project which looks to build community support for charter schools and who is also the husband of Eva Moskowitz of Success Academies charter network. EJ said she would reach out to him.

School Outreach

Goal: Identify existing schools of interest, schedule tours, initiate contact with principals so that BSPC members can get to know the schools. Listen to the needs of particular schools.

Rachel reported that the team has sent letters to local schools letting the schools know about BSPC and that the group is interested in touring local schools. They are in the process of setting up tours with the various schools and are in need of additional volunteers dedicated following up with a particular school.

As the meeting wrapped up there were a few questions about what is meant by the term progressive education. Some of the group’s comments included that, among other things, progressive education philosophy is democratic and based on the idea that education is a part of life, in contrast to the traditional view that education prepares students for life. There are links on the topic of progressive education on the BSPC’s website.

The conversation then evolved into a discussion of whether progressive education options in D16 is primary objective of the group or if the group’s objective is to improve and expand public school options in D16, whether progressive or not. Some members expressed that progressive education was not their primary goal, but having a welcoming neighborhood school was more important. Jake volunteered to set up a survey for the group to help define the mission.

Shaila wanted a one-line slogan to put on the publicity materials -- after a brief discussion the general consensus was NOT to include the word progressive. Michelle, a lifelong Bed-Stuy resident, made the point that in her experience the public schools in Bed-Stuy have been a problem for decades and reminded us that it is not new and parents, including her own, have long struggled with where to send their kids to school.