Sunday, May 5, 2013

PA Ed Policy Roundup Cinco de Mayo Special Edition: Community Schools: real reform without vouchers, charters, tax credits or closing neighborhood schools

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PA Ed Policy Roundup Cinco de Mayo Special Edition:
Community Schools: real reform without vouchers, charters, tax credits or closing neighborhood schools

Coordinating the provision of individually tailored support, remediation and enrichment services for students in high poverty school districts; services that their peers in well funded suburban districts take for granted.  The Community Schools strategy is designed to transform a school into the hub of the neighborhood by organizing a wide range of programs and services around a common vision to serve students and families.

At the May 1, 2013 Education First Compact Meeting in Philadelphia there were three speakers discussing Community Schools.  The Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS) has included the Community Schools model in their alternative plan for Philadelphia’s Public Schools.

What are Community Schools?
National Center for Community Schools
A community school is both a place and a set of partnerships between the school and other community resources. Its integrated focus on academics, services, supports and opportunities leads to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities. Schools become centers of the community, open to everyone, all day, every day, evenings and weekends.
Community schools represent a strategy, not a program. Partners and stakeholders come together to agree on a set of results for children that they will achieve together. They develop a coordination system to share leadership and connect children and families with opportunities, services, and resources. They share accountability for results. They transform schools and communities.

Here’s a link to a similar successful program in Cincinnati (which was cited in the PCAPS report), along with a couple short videos featuring the program on Marketplace……
Community Partnerships — Transforming Schools and Revitalizing Neighborhoods
CPS Community Learning Centers
Communities and schools are strongly linked — one seldom succeeds if the other fails. Schools need families and communities that are involved in the education of students; communities need schools that serve as centers of neighborhood life.

Cincinnati Public Schools has created campuses that strengthen this link between schools and communities. These schools, known as Community Learning Centers (CLC), serve as hubs for community services, providing a system of integrated partnerships that promote academic excellence and offer recreational, educational, social, health, civic and cultural opportunities for students, families and community. Over the past ten years, this model has drawn national attention for successfully engaging community partnerships in school buildings. CLCs offer health services, counseling, afterschool programs, nutrition classes, parent/family engagement programs, early childhood education, career and college access services, youth development activities, mentoring and arts programming. The Board of Education implemented a policy that all district school buildings be CLCs and developed written guidelines for the establishment of partnerships.

Here are 2 good short video pieces about the Cincinnati program covered by American Public Media’s Marketplace last year:
It's never too early for a good start in education
American Public Media Marketplace May 9, 2012 Video runtime 6:07
Kai Ryssdal: Money is one of the biggest things that decide how well kids do in school -- socioeconomic status, to be clinical about it. If you want poor kids to succeed in school, the theory goes, you've got to do something about poverty.
In Cincinnati, Ohio, more than 70 percent of the kids in public schools there are considered poor. The city is trying to help them do better in school by taking on what happens out of school. And that means starting young. Really, really young.
From the Education Desk at WYPR, Marketplace's Amy Scott has the first of two stories on poverty and education.

Tackling poverty along with reading and arithmetic
American Public Media Marketplace May 10, 2012 Video runtime 6:10
Kai Ryssdal: Education is the great equalizer. It's historically the path out of poverty in this country. But how do you get poor kids to do well in class if they're not getting enough to eat at home? Or they need glasses? Or their parents can't help them with their homework at night?
What if you took care of a lot of the stuff that's supposed to happen outside school in school?
In the second of two stories on education and poverty, Marketplace's Amy Scott takes us to a school in Cincinnati trying to do exactly that.

Community Schools: The Mediterranean Diet and school reform
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog by Valerie Strauss on March 29, 2013 at 3:00 am
What does the Mediterranean Diet tell us about school reform? Martin Blank tells us in the following post. Blank is president of the Institute for Educational Leadership and director of the Coalition for Community Schools, an alliance of organizations in education K-16, youth development, community planning and development, family support, health and human services, government and philanthropy as well as national, state and local community school networks. The coalition envisions a future in which schools are centers of thriving communities where everyone belongs, works together, and succeeds.

Please consider sharing and discussing the Executive Summary with your elected officials and other education policymakers.
Community Schools: A Handbook for State Policy Leaders
Improving Student Learning/Strengthening Schools, Families and Communities
Coalition for Community Schools
This handbook is designed to help state leaders—Governors and their policy advisers; State legislators and their staffs; State Boards of Education; Chief State School Officers and staff in State Education Agencies; and directors and staff in state agencies that serve children, youth, and families—to form vital connections between schools and communities to improve student learning. It also will be useful to the work of policy leaders in cities, counties, local school districts, and philanthropy.

“Let us help you bring the power of the community to your school.”
National Center for Community Schools
The Children’s Aid Society
Over the last 17 years, The Children's Aid Society's National Center for Community Schools has facilitated the development of over 15,000 community schools nationally and internationally. We provide the consultation, advocacy and innovation that enable schools and their community partners to meet the comprehensive needs of children, strengthen families and empower neighborhoods.  The Center has provided assistance to nearly all of this country's major community school initiatives, including Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Portland and St. Paul.

In Pennsylvania: The Community School Model...COMPASS
A Community Building Partnership of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley
A recent publication of the Coalition for Community Schools states that, "Community Schools recognize that many factors influence the education of our children and that we must work to mobilize the assets of the school and the entire community to improve educational, health, social, family, economic, and related results. Community Schools function as active agents of change in the lives of students and families and their communities. Leaders of community school initiatives know that success in school, strong families, and healthy communities are intertwined."

“The time has come to broaden the debate about accountability to include shared responsibility for the success of our children. Community schools offer a means to eliminate the achievement gap by educating the whole child and providing our neediest students with the supports they need to succeed.”
Community Schools: American Federation of Teachers
The Issue: Too many students come to school with needs that impede their ability to thrive academically. If we really want to close the achievement gap, we must supplement their regular coursework by addressing factors that are beyond the control of teachers and schools yet have a direct effect on student outcomes. Important factors such as healthcare, social services and parental involvement are too often divorced from school life, although they are critical to student success. These supports are even more crucial at a time like the present, when a struggling economy puts even greater pressures on families.
The Solution: We propose transforming some of the schools serving our neediest students into community schools that bring together, under one roof, the services and activities that our children and their families need.  With the support of mayors and/or other government leaders, local agencies and community groups, community schools could provide students the services beyond instruction that they need to reach their potential. A variety of federal, state and local funding streams could be drawn upon for these services.
School buildings would be open all day and evening for tutoring, homework assistance and recreational activities. Medical, dental, recreational, counseling and child care services would be available to meet the community's needs.
Community schools would create an inviting environment for parents and other adults by offering parents customized supports such as English language instruction, employment counseling, citizenship programs and GED programs. Having these programs and social services in schools could encourage parents to get more involved in their children's education, and help to stabilize families so they can better support their children's learning.
Community schools are not a new concept. They have their roots in the earliest, richest traditions of public education. The time has come to broaden the debate about accountability to include shared responsibility for the success of our children. Community schools offer a means to eliminate the achievement gap by educating the whole child and providing our neediest students with the supports they need to succeed.

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