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05/2/2014 | Promoting Strong Public Schools

Community Schools National Forum

Two CPD core partners -- Wisconsin Jobs Now and Pittsburgh Action United – received special mentions at last month’s 1200-person Community Schools National Forum in Cincinnati.

They were lauded because they helped to lead 80- and 30-person delegations, respectively, of parents, community members, and teachers to the forum. WJN and AU were two of eight CPD partners who attended the forum as part of a CPD strategy to expand demand for community schools around the country, and create new, sustainable, dedicated funding streams for community schools.

During the last 20 years, community school initiatives have spread to localities in all 50 states. [1] They have grown rapidly, in part, because they represent a vehicle that aligns communities around a common goal—improving the success of our children. [2]

The growth is also being spurred by communities seeking significant gains in academic and nonacademic achievement, in which community schools have demonstrated success. [3][4]

At a time when a growing number of leaders are choosing to endorse programs and strategies that weaken our public schools[5], we want to organize for a future that supports and transforms our public school system.

The Community Schools National Forum gave CPD, other community organizing groups and our teachers union partners – all part of the newly formed Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS) a chance to learn from the work of existing community schools.

For example, Cincinnati Community Learning Centers hosted site visits to their exciting successful practicing community schools, like the award-winning Oyler Elementary that boasts a health center, vision and dental clinics, mental health services, early childhood programs among its many self-sustaining community partnerships.

On the other hand, the Forum afforded CPD, along with our partners and networks, the opportunity to highlight the ways in which organizing is playing an increasingly pivotal role in the trumpeting and expansion of community schools around the country.

On Thursday, at a mini-plenary on community organizing, CPD was able to present its organizing plans and predict that leading into next year’s forum we would have 20 groups boarding 20 busses from 20 cities, with newly elected pro-community school legislators announcing the introduction of community schools legislation in 20 states.


[1]Community School Research Brief, 2009, page 1; http://www.communityschools.org/assets/1/AssetManager/CCS%20Research%20Report2009.pdf

[2]http://www.southerneducation.org/cmspages/getfile.aspx?guid=0bc70ce1-d375-4ff6-8340-f9b3452ee088 page 2

[3]Community School Research Brief, page 1 2009; http://www.communityschools.org/assets/1/AssetManager/CCS%20Research%20Report2009.pdf

[4]DOE State Evaluation Reports http://www2.ed.gov/programs/21stcclc/contacts.html#state

[5] We are referring to strategies such as high stakes testing, grading schools, diverting funds to unregulated charters, mass firing of teachers and staff, and other non-child focused strategies that research studies have found do not close achievement gaps for poor and minority communities.