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We are the PAR for Educational Justice Project that is engaged with a series of participatory action research projects in Brooklyn’s District 15.

From Feb 2020 – June 2021, we conducted the D15 Sub3 PAR Project to develop a rezoning proposal for elementary schools in Gowanus/Red Hook/Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill areas of District 15.

Launching Spring 2022, we are currently conducting the District 15 Sunset Park PAR Project. This project is working to develop recommendations in relation to four new buildings opening in the Sunset Park area of District 15.

What is the background of this work?

In the spring of 2019, the DOE announced that they would be rezoning seven schools in the Gowanus/Red Hook/Carroll Gardens/ Cobble Hill/Boerum Hill area of District 15 in part because of a new school addition opening at P.S. 32. The DOE initially was partnering with CEC 15 and school communities to invite community feedback on the rezoning and admissions plan. The DOE’s aim was to increase diversity and integration, reduce overcrowding, and advance equity in the Gowanus/Red Hook/Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill areas of District 15.  The planning impacted seven zoned schools: PS 676, PS 15, PS 32, PS 58, Ps 29, PS 38 and PS 261. During conversations with community members and community leaders in 2019, a central piece of feedback that stood out was the need for more time to consider potential plans and meaningfully center historically excluded and underrepresented communities in the process. This feedback ultimately resulted in a commitment to undertake a PAR process in both Subzone 3 (Red Hook, Gowanus, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill) and Sunset Park.

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

Participatory action research (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 these projects, the PAR research team is made up of a diverse range of community members, particularly from historically excluded communities, who are impacted by school changes in their communities. The PAR Research team pulls from their own expertise, lived experiences, community knowledge, and existing data to collaboratively design research, collect and analyze data, produce findings, and develop recommendations regarding rezoning, admissions and school policy in 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?

Maddy Fox: Maddy is a PS 15 parent, a faculty member at Brooklyn College, a founding researcher with CUNY’s Public Science Project and faculty in the Center for the Study of Brooklyn at Brooklyn College. She has been conducting participatory action research projects focused on young people’s experiences with public policy (like schooling) for the past 18 years. Over the past several years, she has been honored to collaborate closely with the Red Hook Initiative on various PAR projects. Contact: madelinefox@brooklyn.cuny.edu

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