Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Education

New Reports Assess How to Sustain Community Schools and Help Teachers

By Nora Fleming — January 18, 2012 3 min read

A friend of mine was teaching in a classroom last year in Los Angeles. After noticing some of her students were coming to school hungry (and not eating throughout the day), she started bringing snacks from home to make sure her kids had something in their stomachs, and could pay attention in class. The “granola bar drawer” she kept was a lifesaver to get a few of the most unruly (and hungriest) to pay attention, she said.

Her experiences don’t seem to be unique, according a new report from the Center for American Progress, a Washington-based public policy think tank, and the Coalition for Community Schools, a Washington-based nonprofit that supports and advocates for community school partnerships. The two organizations have released two reports today that look at how “community schools” can benefit teachers and how to build the successful partnerships needed to sustain community schools.

“A recent national survey found that 61 percent of teachers purchase food for their classrooms and spend an average of $24 out of pocket each month. Seventy-four percent of teachers say they have helped families sign their students up for free or reduced-price lunches, and 49 percent say they have referred students and their families to other services and resources,” the report, “Lightening the Load: A Look at Four Ways that Community Schools Can Support Effective Teaching,” finds.

For this report, interviews with teachers and school staff at community schools around the country were analyzed, and conclusions on how community schools have and could meet their needs and responsibilities were drawn. Teachers were found to focus significant attention on the “unmet needs” of students, like hunger and health, which could come at the loss of classroom instruction, particularly in low-income schools, the report says. Community schools can alleviate these concerns by providing wraparound health services, offering parent engagement and empowerment programs, and providing other services that free teachers to focus on student academic needs.

In “Achieving Results through Community School Partnerships,” the ways to secure and maintain the very partnerships that enable community schools to be effective are discussed. Strategies like sharing a common vision with stakeholders built on collaboration, improving school district central office management, and using data to assess impact and results are a few mentioned.

For those unfamiliar, a community school (or a community school district) is one where community organizations and leaders partner with schools to supply social services and other resources to improve the quality of education for students. Meeting “nonacademic needs” of students can help improve academics, or at least that is the goal.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhoods program is one such example, but in recent years more schools and districts like Cincinnati, Oakland, Calif., and Tulsa, Okla., have become community focused, especially since many have faced significant budget cuts and need to find a cost-effective means to fill in the holes.

As you may remember, in Cincinnati community partnerships enabled the district to offer a “Fifth Quarter” program, and in Oakland, students were supplied vision testing and glasses. According to the report, only about one quarter of the resources provided in community schools are from the district; the others come from blended public and private funding, organizations, and other public agencies.

“Community schools establish ‘cradle to career’ conditions for learning that make it possible for every child to succeed,” the report says. “This strategy works by creating a collaborative leadership structure, embedding a culture of partnership, and aligning resources. Partners set and achieve high standards of accountability across multiple platforms.”

The two reports released today are in conjunction with an event at the Center for American Progress where the findings were discussed. Here’s a link to the video.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Beyond School blog.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Learn directly from the pros why K-12 branding and marketing matters, and how to do it effectively.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Join experts from Samsung and Boxlight to learn how to make learning more interactive from anywhere.
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Director of Information Technology
Montpelier, Vermont
Washington Central UUSD
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Director of Athletics
Farmington, Connecticut
Farmington Public Schools
Head of Lower School
San Diego, California
San Diego Jewish Academy

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read