Post written by Martin J. Blank, Director and President, Coalition for Community Schools at the Institute for Educational Leadership; and Shama S. Jamal, National Policy Emerson Fellow, Coalition for Community Schools
Community schools are high on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's education agenda; an agenda that he made a commitment to during his campaign and is now taking action on.
De Blasio's recent appointment of Richard Buery as the deputy mayor for strategic policy initiatives strengthens his vision and plan to implement 100 more community schools in the city. Buery's expertise and former work as chief executive officer at the Children's Aid Society will provide the foundation for a strategic expansion of community schools across the city. Children's Aid Society is a national model for implementing community schools in New York City and houses the National Center for Community Schools. It is a founding partner of the Coalition for Community Schools.
ASCD continually seeks to provide solutions to the challenges that face educators of all levels. Recently the ASCD SmartBrief ED Pulse poll sought out the opinion of its readers on the idea of community schools.
Post written by Janet Brown, Senior Early Childhood Program Specialist, and Kwesi Rollins, Director of Leadership Programs at the Institute for Educational Leadership
In Lifelines for Poor Children, economist and Nobel laureate James Heckman argues that quality early learning programs represent our best national education investment, due to evidence of societal benefits from longitudinal studies of Perry Preschool and Abecedarian early childhood programs.
The Perry Preschool Project and Abecedarian programs worked extensively with families in their home and community contexts. Successes from such early learning and family support efforts suggest that cross-sector community collaborations, such as those in community schools, are ideal contexts for scaling up early childhood programming for low-income children and families. Such schools share program approaches with Perry Preschool and Abecedarian, including home visits and follow-up supports for children and families in their communities.
Post written by Martin J. Blank and Ryan Fox, Coalition for Community Schools
Walking through the halls of John C. Fremont High School in South Central Los Angeles with senior Kevin Valiencia, one finds an unexpected inner city public school in one of the most maligned neighborhoods in the country.
A climate of cooperation, enthusiasm, unity, and endless possibilities permeate throughout school. A strong juxtaposition with the surrounding community in which neighborhoods blocks apart from each other are often at war. Kevin himself has seen a friend stabbed, drive-by shootings, and police raids near his home.
It's not that the troubles found in other schools don't exist inside Fremont. Less than 40 percent of its students graduate in four years and test scores still lag behind state averages. But the angst and conflict found in many other struggling urban schools is minimal at Fremont. The suspension rate at Fremont is far below the rates at other high schools in the district. While the dropout rate is still very high, those numbers are gradually improving. Nearly 85 percent of those that did graduate in 2009 and 2010 continued on to a postsecondary education.
"There's unity (at Fremont)," Kevin said. "We're all in this together."
Byrne Creek Secondary School opened its doors to students for the first time in September 2005. The school was planned and built to solve an overcrowding problem in the south part of Burnaby. Planning and opening any new school has challenges; Byrne Creek was faced with additional problems. The community had the highest number of refugee students in the metro area of Vancouver, with the majority of refugees from Afghanistan and Africa. Many were functionally illiterate in their own language and had faced hardships such as famine, war, and other atrocities in their own countries. Two inner city elementary schools in the Byrne Creek neighborhood had been trying to support these families and were very helpful in making recommendations. In addition, the neighborhood is a low income and working class income socioeconomic community. The issues being faced by the elementary schools foreshadowed the challenges that the new Byrne Creek Secondary would face.
Preparing our students for their future college, career, and citizenship success is our common purpose and responsibility. Essential to student success is access to personalized learning and support from qualified, caring adults. Students as learners are also students as people with social-emotional, physical, and mental health needs.
Supportive education communities are places where school staff, community-based service providers, families, and other adult stakeholders work together to identify and address students' needs and provide a coordinated, whole child approach to their education. Join us throughout April as we examine building and sustaining communities in which each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
Byrne Creek Secondary School, located in Burnaby, British Columbia, is the 2012 winner of ASCD's annual Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award. ASCD honored Byrne Creek because it is an example of the supportive education community that a commitment to the whole child can create. It is the first Canadian school to receive the award.
Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award recognizes schools that move beyond a narrow focus on academic achievement to take action for the whole child, creating learners who are knowledgeable, emotionally and physically healthy, civically active, artistically engaged, prepared for economic self-sufficiency, and ready for the world beyond formal schooling.
Learning does not begin or end in school. In fact, the learning and development that does—or does not—happen outside of school is often as much or more important than formal learning. In September we looked at schools engaging parents and families to inform, complement, reinforce, and accelerate educators' efforts to educate the whole child. Meaningful involvement and connections between families and educators create partnerships that are critical to ensuring that each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
In May, we examined the benefits of creating active communities that are a meaningful part of a whole child education. Collectively we have the knowledge, skill, and ability to meet challenges and share strengths. So, what's holding us back? Every school, community, classroom, educator, student, and family has unique challenges and strengths and a role to play in ensuring that each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. With this in mind,
Who is your community?
What does involvement look like in your community?
How do you plan to build and sustain your community's involvement in educating the whole child?
Our ASCD community includes the residents of Joplin, Mo., where a deadly tornado devastated the city on May 22. No community is immune to the effects of economic, social, and natural disasters. In response to Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, ASCD developed a series of workshops that focus on helping educators meet displaced students' academic, physical, and emotional needs. These materials were requested for use with Joplin Schools. Educators in all locales are invited to download the workshop materials and lesson plans to use with their colleagues:
Building Resiliency: Introduces participants to an understanding of resiliency and how it pertains to individuals not only in an educational context but also in a context related to crisis, trauma, or cataclysmic events.
Supporting Positive School Culture and Climate: Targets the importance of school culture and climate.
Exploring New Roles for Families, Schools, and Communities: Focuses on developing a collaborative environment that will support quality learning and improve family outcomes.
Classes at Joplin Schools will begin in 72 days, and more than 260 classrooms must start from scratch. When students come back to school, the district would like the classrooms to feel as normal, warm, and welcoming as possible. If you would like to help, please participate in the "Adopt-a-Classroom" program. Joplin Schools will partner you or your organization with a Joplin teacher who will let you know the specific things he or she needs to create a fun and inviting classroom again.
Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with guests Hugh Price, a visiting professor in the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and former president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League; Dave LaRose, superintendent of the South Kitsap School District in Washington State where he has developed partnerships with community agencies, health organizations, mentoring programs, and faith-based leaders to provide the resources students need to succeed in school; and Deborah Wortham, former superintendent of the Steelton-Highspire School District in Pennsylvania and former assistant superintendent for high schools and director of professional development for Baltimore (Md.) City Public Schools.
Consider what whole child education means to parents. Parents want to know more about how we define community and what exactly we expect community members to do. How do we listen and engage in conversations that reinforce a shared responsibility for each child's success?
Reinforce the concept that education is a team effort with articles and perspectives from the May 2011 issues of ASCD Express and Educational Leadership. Getting families, educators, and students to work together can have a substantial effect on students' education, providing a foundation that will help guide students down the right path in life.
Learn about engagement strategies that will strengthen education reform efforts from the National Family, School, and Community Engagement Working Group. What will it take to ensure that family and community engagement are at the core of national innovation and reform strategies?
Watch archived presentations from the series "Achieving Excellence and Innovation in Family, School, and Community Engagement," sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, United Way Worldwide, National PTA, SEDL, and the Harvard Family Research Project. Session topics include community engagement in education reform, the teacher-parent relationship, building strategic partnerships, and ensuring school readiness.
Move your school and community along a continuum from connecting with stakeholders to empowering partners. Read comments and watch presentations by Healthy School Communities mentor sites from Ontario, Canada, and Indiana for ideas and strategies.
Food Experts Urge Parents, Schools to Get Tough About Nutrition: Experts in food politics are taking parents and schools to task for not being more aggressive about providing healthy foods for children, saying students do not necessarily need to have a say in what goes on the menu and that the school lunch line should not mimic a fast-food restaurant. "Renegade lunch lady" and author Ann Cooper, speaking at the Natural Products Expo, criticized the organic industry for making candy, corn dogs, and other unhealthy snacks.