Editor's Note (The View From Here)

Schools and Community

There are many versions of a community school partnership, ranging from schools that partner with Parks and Rec departments, the YMCA or the Boys and Girls Clubs to provide after-school activities, partnerships with public libraries and serve the entire community, to those schools that provide Head Start and adult education classes or become community colleges at night. The concept of schools as centers of community is not a new one, but it is easier said than done. Coordination and joint operating agreements often become roadblocks, along with the need for controlling visitors to keep students safe. Despite the challenges, a number of districts and communities are making sure that both the community and the students are being served.

One such effort is a program known as “Promise Neighborhoods”, built on the model of the Harlem Children’s Zone. The initiative brings community partners together to address education, health and social services support in targeted low-income communities. In the District of Columbia, the DC Promise Neighborhood program is concentrated in the Kenilworth-Parkside area and has the received a grant from the Department of Education in 2010, a $20-million, five-year implementation grant in 2012 and substantial support from private foundations. In New York, the city will spend $52 million over several years to convert 40 schools into community hubs with medical and dental services, nutrition and fitness programs, tutoring and job trainings, and other assistance to for students and families.

In addition to struggling students in the inner-city, U.S. public schools reported a record high enrollment of 1.3 million homeless students in the 2012-13 school year, a nearly eight-percent increase from the previous year. Last week’s news reported that the number of homeless students in Kansas public schools increased by more than a thousand from the previous school year. A New Orleans elementary school held a coat drive for homeless students making up at least 12 percent of the schools enrollment. A record number of homeless children and youth were reported in Alabama public schools — 29,749 homeless students in preschools and K-12 schools in 2012-13. An increase of 68 percent from the previous year.

If we hope to educate all students we need serve them beyond the classroom. My hope is that this will happen in 2015.

This article originally appeared in the January 2015 issue of School Planning & Management.

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