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Community Education and Neighborhood Schools

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Topic 11

Slide Show:
Community Education
Community Education, Organizing and School Reform
Powerpoint presentations (in html format)

"Many schools are like little islands set apart from the mainland of life". Community Education, in contrast, is a philosophy (not a program) in which the school serves the entire community by providing for the educational needs of all its community members. In Community Education the local school serves as a catalyst for bringing community resources to bear on community problems. Community Education and Neighborhood Planning are virtually the same approach, viewed from a different perspective. The Texas IAF organization found that social capital is built through Community Education, but that it forms not within the boundaries of the schools but in the neighborhoods.


Peter Medoff and Holly Sklar, Streets of Hope, The Fall and Rise of an Urban Neighborhood (Boston: South End Press, 1994), Chapter 8, "The Power of Youth", pp. 203-244
Reading #1

Jack D. Minzey and Clyde E. LeTarte, Reforming Public Schools Through Community Education (Fairfax: National Community Education Association, 1994), "Community Education: From Program to Process", "Objectives of Community Education", pp. 52-69.
Reading #5 (pdf)

Larry Kilbourne, Larry E. Decker, and Valerie A. Romney, Rebuilding the Partnership for Public Education, (Charlottesville: Mid-Atlantic Center for Community Education, 1994), Chapter IV, "Bridging the Gap", pp. 79-91.
Reading #6 (pdf)

Steve Parson, Transforming Schools into Community Learning Centers (Larchmont, Eye on Education, 1999), Chapter 2, "Community Learning Centers", pp. 13-26.
Reading #7 (pdf)

Pedro Noguera, "Transforming Urban Schools Through Investments in the Social Capital of Parents", in Susan Saegert, J. Phillip Thompson, and Mark R. Warren, Social Capital and Poor Communities (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2001), pp. 189-212.
Reading #9 (pdf)

Joyce Epstein, School, Family, and Community Partnerships: Preparing Educators and Improving Schools (Boulder: Westview Press, 2001), "School, Family, and Community Partnerships - Caring for the Children We Share" pp. 403-426.
Reading #17 (pdf)

James Comer, et. al., Rallying the Whole Village: The Comer Process for Reforming Education (New York: Teachers College Press, 1996), Chapter 3, "It Takes a Whole Village: The SDP School", pp. 42-71.
Reading #19 (pdf)

Chapter 3, "Capturing Local Institutions for Community Building", "Schools" in John P. Kretzmann and John L. McKnight, Building Communities from the Inside Out, A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing A.
Reading #23

Ch. 30, Catherine Briar Lawson, et. al., "School-Linked Comprehensive Services: Promising Beginnings, Lessons Learned, and Future Challenges" in Patricia Ewalt, Edith Freeman, and Dennis Poole, eds. Community Building: Renewal, Well-Being, and Shared Responsibility (Washington, D.C.: National Association of Social Works Press, 1998), pp. 343-354.
Reading #24 (pdf)

Dennis Shirley, Community Organizing for Urban School Reform (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997), Chapter 10, "The Pursuit of Success", pp. 241-264.
Reading #41 (pdf)

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Selected Readings (pdf)
Education, Organizing and School Reform

Subtopics inside:
Back to Dudley Street Theory
Community based education
Social capital and education
Evaluating schools and programs
Parent participation
Leadership: principals and teachers
School-Family-Community Partnerships
Assets-based approaches to education
School based human services consortiums - including public safety
Pre-school programs
After-school programs
Service learning
Mentoring and multi-generational partnerships
Health care centers in schools
Charter schools
Community organizing and educational reform

The Community Schools Partnership. Mike Green, of ABCD (Asset Based Community Development) Training and Organizing, was asked to lead a meeting of parents, teachers, and administrators for the Albuquerque - Bernalillo County Community Schools Partnership. By engaging those present in identifying the helping "gifts" we can share with our neighbors, the participants defined Community Schools in a complete and compelling way. Neighborhood residents have no trouble describing what roles schools and their partners should play in the community and how residents can assist. At the core of the effort are parents, young people, neighborhood residents, local businesses, and others working together with teachers and principals.

This does not mean that implementing community schools is simple and straight-forward. In cities, poverty is concentrated in certain neighborhoods and the situation is more pronounced among public school families. The task of bringing resources "to bear on community problems" in these places as called for in community schools is complex, involving education, housing, public health, social work, public safety, planning, and other actions. The organizational and professional "silos" in which people work are remarkably detrimental to the community's good and resistant to change.

The Albuquerque - Bernalillo County Community Schools Partnership was formed in 2006, consistent with policies adopted in the Planned Growth Strategy (see topic 3), by the Albuquerque Public Schools, City of Albuquerque, County of Bernalillo, Albuquerque Business Education Compact, United Way of Central N.M., N.M. Community Foundation, and youth advocacy groups. The Intergovernmental Agreement that created the Partnership contains helpful information regarding organizational linkages, roles, sustainability, professional development, facility utilization, and poverty; a statement of community schools principles; four prioritized community school models; and a two-year implementation program. The Intergovernmental Agreement can be accessed here.

The Agreement was followed in 2007 by the adoption of a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) among the government partners. The JPA allows the creation of a new agency of government that combines selected community schools functions of the partners, thereby addressing the need for structural change to foster collaboration. The JPA enables the Community Schools Partnership to seek funds to operate community schools programs, manage community schools programs transferred to the Partnership but with budget decisions remaining with the program source, and manage community schools programs transferred to the Partnership along with dedicated funding. The Joint Powers Agreement is found at this link.

A proposal was drafted to fund a community schools training program at the University of New Mexico's College of Education. The program suggested included a license program in community schools for teachers and principals, professional development training for educators, a Certificate in Community Schools and Neighborhood Development for community schools coordinators, a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership (Community Schools), a dual Master's Degree in Educational Leadership and Community Planning, and a GED course. Click here for a summary of this grant proposal. (Note: the dean of the College of Education was unconvinced of the need to pursue this effort.)

Based on the first years of the Comunity Schools Partnership, the challenges included the following:
Establishing joint, coordinated government engagement requires great effort to break through silos and create an organizational framework and practices to govern, plan, manage, and carry out community schools;
Although excellent models of community schools exist (such as Full Service Schools, School Development Program, Alliance Schools, Harlem Children's Zone, and Childrens Aid Society Schools, among others), there is a tendency to design one's own program at the expense of learning from successful models;
It is simpler to create and fund new programs rather than craft collaborations among existing programs, but this must be done;
While it is necessary to create the human infrastructure of community schools through teacher, administrator, parent, neighbor, and para-professional education, Colleges of Education may not believe that this is essential to their mission;
School districts have to incorporate basic community schools-related training, job descriptions, and reward systems into day-to-day operations.
On-going community schools education is needed for elected and appointed officals to insure the continuity of commitment to the effort as key leaders are replaced.

Community schools, schools as centers for community engagement and integrated development efforts, require extraordinary change in the status-quo, necessitating simulataneous, complementary, fundamental changes in a number of large organizations. The "flip" in the matrix of community services from horizontal silos to place-based collaboration is simple to envision but very difficult to accomplish. The task seems daunting, but as Suzuki has written: we should not think "because it is possible we will do it", but rather "even though it is impossible, we have to do it...." In short, because it is critically important, a long term commitment to addressing and working through the difficulties is the appropriate path. It is what we have to do.

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Dr. Louis Colombo & Ken Balizer, AICP