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Advocating for Community Schools

Community Schools

Across the United States, we have much work to do in order to extend the promise of public education to every student. In recent years, attacks on teachers, high-stakes testing and the encroachment of privatization have increased. This has threatened the ability of schools to play their vital role as pillars of our democracy. We are missing valuable opportunities to prepare the next generation of Americans, particularly low-income students and students of color, for success and leadership.  

Schools can and should become a vehicle for whole community development. When we...

Across the United States, we have much work to do in order to extend the promise of public education to every student. In recent years, attacks on teachers, high-stakes testing and the encroachment of privatization have increased. This has threatened the ability of schools to play their vital role as pillars of our democracy. We are missing valuable opportunities to prepare the next generation of Americans, particularly low-income students and students of color, for success and leadership.  

Schools can and should become a vehicle for whole community development. When we address the systemic economic and social challenges that lead to school failure, we will succeed.

The Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) is organizing to promote Community Wrap-around Schools as a core strategy to achieve sustainable gains in achievement and improved outcomes for children in high-needs school districts. Community  schools create opportunities for parent, student and community engagement What’s more, they use research-based educational practices and provide resources for students to succeed.

Community Wrap-around Schools:

  • Serve children and families living in the community

  • Have a full-time resource coordinator whose role it is to ensure smooth linkages among partners and school staff and programs

  • Include a relevant, robust, and well-rounded curriculum including arts, sports, and other creative activities, which address- children’s diverse needs and prepares  them for college, a career, and active citizenship

  • Often expand and restructure the school day, providing greater opportunities for enrichment

  • Provide wrap-around services for students and families, such as counseling, health care,  GED classes, community gardens, early childhood centers and others, as needed

  • Provide rich professional development for school staff and community partners, including the time for staff to plan and learn together

  • Include families, community organizations, neighborhood residents, and school staff in the planning, implementation, and monitoring of school progress

  • Create improved academic, social and future outcomes for students and communities

Our Community School Action plan, when fully realized, will establish new community schools in 25 states. In a time when a loud  chorus of leaders are choosing to endorse programs and strategies that weaken our public schools[1], we want to organize for a future that supports and transforms our public school system.

[1] We are referring to strategies such as high-stakes testing, grading schools, diverting funds to unregulated charter schools, 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.

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