Strong communities are the foundation of good schools. Good schools require strong schools. This is why there is renewed interest in the time-honored approach to education: community schools.
People may wonder if the logic of strong school/community partnerships is enough to meet today’s accountability requirements. Schools must be able to take the time to develop relationships, even though they may not meet federal standards for a single test. Many educators, elected officials, and community leaders think that schools can’t afford, not, to develop such relationships.
Today’s leaders of the community schools movement know that education reform is not an either/or proposition. Research and practice are showing that the two tasks of focusing on achievement and building relationships that link school, family, and community are closely connected.
Benefits of Community Schools
Increase school staff’s non-instructional workload by gaining additional resources. Partnerships allow educators to focus on curriculum and instruction by providing support and services that meet the needs of all students.
Offer learning opportunities that improve young people’s academic, social, and emotional skills. Students who can be socially, emotionally, and physically competent will succeed at school.
Young people can connect with their families and find role models and other life options. Partnerships provide students with social capital, networks, and relationships that give them a sense of belonging and communicate the importance and value of education and believe in the future.
How Does Research Support Community Schools?
Community schools make it possible to achieve significant academic and non-academic gains. They promote stability in the family and greater involvement of the family with schools.
They encourage teacher satisfaction and positive school environments. They enable better school building use and increase security and pride in the surrounding communities.
Research also supports the connection between school, home, and family as well as student achievement. Barton (2003) identified 14 variables that are associated with student achievement.
Sixteen of the 14 factors are related to school environments, including the rigor of the school curriculum, teacher preparation, and safety.
The eight remaining factors are related to family and community and emphasize the importance of student success. These include parental availability and support as well as student mobility, parent involvement, TV watching, and student mobility.
The Time is Now
In this age of federal education standards and high-stakes testing, can schools afford to spend time building relationships? Research and practice are showing that school-community partnerships are key to improving student achievement, particularly in communities with economic and social challenges. The community school allows educators to combine their resources in new ways and create broad learning communities that support student success.
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