19 Core Principles
The Community Learning Centers follow 19 core principles. Among them are:
- Assessment: Standards are evaluated at grades 4, 8, and 12 in the national goals subjects: English, geography, history, math, science, and the arts. Assessments are embedded into daily student work. Evaluations are based on competency expectations, exhibitions, or presentations. Student performance is checked against nationally normed tests and community-established standards.
- Curriculum: The curriculum is established by setting outcomes and designing learning experiences to help students achieve them. The school works with community organizations and institutions to insure that student learning is rooted in real-world experiences. School curriculum and programs respect and prize all learners regardless of their race, gender, religion, disability, or age.
- Guidance: Each student develops a “personal learning plan” to set academic goals and record individual progress. An adviser meets periodically with the student and a parent to monitor achievement.
- Resources: Community Learning Centers may spend more on instructional materials, equipment, technology, field trips, and community-based learning than other schools. Schools may hire fewer teachers and rely on paraprofessionals, volunteers, and students, among others, to perform clerical or administrative tasks. Such reallocation of staff allows teachers to focus on their primary role: to teach, advise, and participate in continuous professional and school improvement.
- Student leadership: Students are viewed as powerful resources. Teachers and administrators encourage students to participate in decisionmaking.
- Community involvement: Parents participate in student-teacher conferences, share their skills and experience, reinforce learning at home, and participate in school decisionmaking. Community Learning Centers establish partnerships with area public and private agencies, early-childhood programs, and colleges and universities to make better use of community resources and reduce fragmented and duplicative services.
- Choice: All students attend and faculty members work at Community Learning Centers by choice.
Community Learning Center Partners
- Wayne B. Jennings, the president of Designs for Learning, a for-profit education consulting firm in Minneapolis. Jennings and his company serve as the venture’s primary leaders.
- Joe Nathan, the director of the Center for School Change, a rural school-reform organization at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
- Elaine Salinas, an education program officer at the Urban Coalition, a St. Paul advocacy group that promotes equity in education.
- John A. Cairns, a Minneapolis lawyer who formerly served as the executive director of the Minnesota Business Partnership, an alliance of the state’s 100 largest employers.
Community Learning Center Sites
- Cedar Riverside Community School, Minneapolis Pre-K through 8 charter school, 9-12 planned
- Minneapolis Community Learning Center, Minneapolis Pre-K through 8 charter school, 9-12 planned
- Fond Du Lac Community Learning Centers: Fond Du Lac Ojibwe School, Cloquet, Minn., and Spotted Eagle School, Duluth, Minn. Pre-K through adult tribal schools
- Minnesota New Country School, LeSueur, Minn. 7-12 charter school
- Rothsay Public School, Rothsay, Minn. Pre-K through adult public school
- St. Paul Community Learning Centers: Expo I (elementary), St. Paul; Expo II (middle), St. Paul Pre-K through 9 public schools
- Toivola-Meadowlands Community Learning Center, Meadowlands, Minn. K-12 charter school
A version of this article appeared in the March 15, 1995 edition of Education Week as The Learning Process 19 Core Principles