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Announcing the District 15 Participatory Action Research (PAR) Project

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We are excited to be launching the District 15 PAR Project in the Gowanus/Red Hook/Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill areas of District 15. In addition, we are working in Sunset Park to develop a framework for a PAR process to begin Summer/Fall 2020 to help plan for new school buildings coming to that neighborhood!

What is the background on this project?

With the new school addition opening at P.S. 32, the DOE has been partnering with CEC 15 and school communities since the spring 2019 to develop a collaborative rezoning and admissions plan that aims to increase diversity and integration, reduce overcrowding, and advance equity in the Gowanus/Red Hook/Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill areas of District 15. This planning impacts seven zoned schools: PS 676, PS 15, PS 32, PS 58, PS 29, PS 38 and PS 261. During conversations over the past year, a central piece of feedback that stood out was the need for more time to consider potential plans and further empower historically underrepresented communities in the process. This feedback ultimately resulted in a commitment to undertake a PAR process in both this area and Sunset Park.

What is PAR and what are the goals of this project?

PAR is a framework that is rooted in the belief that community members most impacted by an issue should be the ones to lead investigations and develop responses and recommendations. In this project, the PAR Team will be made up of a variety of community members, particularly from underrepresented communities within the seven school zones listed above (for info on the Sunset Park process and team, see below). The PAR Team will pull from their own expertise, lived experiences, community knowledge, and existing data to collaboratively design research, produce findings, and develop recommendations regarding rezoning, admissions and school policy in this area of District 15. This project will seek to build a complex understanding, based on community expertise, of:

  • What does equity mean and what does it look like for different members of different school communities?
  • What do families value when it comes to their children’s elementary education?
  • What schools and schooling experiences do families desire?
  • What are current perceptions and desires with regard to the different existing elementary
  • school options?
  • What supports do families desire within schools once their children are enrolled?

Who is facilitating and working on this project?

We are the District 15 PAR Collective. In Red Hook/Gowanus/Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill, we include Edwin Pacheco, Red Hook community leader; Maddy Fox from CUNY’s Public Science Project/Brooklyn College’s Center for the Study of Brooklyn; Matt Gonzales from NYU Metro Center; representatives from the NYC Department of Education with support from the Red Hook Initiative and YOU!

What is the timeline and how will this work?

The Gowanus/Red Hook/Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill PAR project will run from February – June 2020. We are recruiting 8 local community members to join the project as the core research team. This group will meet weekly between now and June and will guide and lead all parts of the project, including monthly public events for broad participation. Together, we will learn about the rezoning process, clarify our questions, determine the best ways to gather information from all our neighbors, and ultimately generate recommendations. No prior knowledge, skills, or experience are necessary and core research team members will receive a stipend for participation!

How can I get involved?

This project has the potential to generate a new vision for equity and zoning across our schools that is shaped and deeply supported by local community members. It’s exciting! In order for this to happen – we need everyone! The more of us who are part of the process, the stronger the findings will be. What strengths could you bring to the work? There are multiple ways to be involved in addition to being on the core research team. If you are interested in participating at any level – please check out the application form at district15parproject.org. The application includes additional details, including meeting times and dates. Please apply! If you are unable to apply online or have any questions please email district15parproject@gmail.com or call/text Maddy Fox at (917)-560-8846.

What about Sunset Park?

We are collaborating with school communities and local organizations to develop a PAR plan for Sunset Park that would begin in Summer/Fall 2020. Stay tuned for more info in the coming months!

Any other thoughts? Feel free to contact the District 15 PAR Project collective at: district15parproject@gmail.com and visit district15parproject.org.

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