Reporting Back on Community Schools

After our fantastic gubernatorial candidate Education Debate two weeks ago, some people did not get much sleep. Early the next morning, over thirty people went to Cincinnati, Ohio for a national conference on community schools. Pittsburgh sent the largest delegation, which included school board members, district administration, representatives from the Mayor’s office and City Council, parents, teachers, foundation officials, faith leaders, and community members.

Members of the Pittsburgh delegation get ready to board the bus for Cincinnati!

Members of the Pittsburgh delegation get ready to board the bus for Cincinnati!

Now this group is ready to report back what they learned. Want to find out more about community schools and what they might look like for Pittsburgh? Many of us really wanted to go to the conference but could not – so this is our chance to hear all about it and be a part of the discussion. Please come!

Monday, May 5, 2014: 6PM
{note the date change! this was previously announced as April 29 – new location to be announced here as soon as I receive that information}

You can also RSVP on our Facebook event page and invite your friends to help spread the word. Many thanks to the Heinz Endowments for making it possible to send so many parents and community members and to the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers for the thankless task of organizing the registration, bus, and hotel details.

At this point you may still be asking, what are “community schools”? I like this quick definition: a community school is both a place and a set of partnerships, linking the school and community resources. It integrates the work of local non-profits, businesses, healthcare and social service providers, after school programs, and more – not just by asking groups to donate their services, but by becoming full partners in a way that benefits all. Community schools are central hubs in their community and respond to local needs. Many offer classes such as adult literacy, provide exciting enrichment programs, and open their recreational facilities to everyone in the evenings and on weekends. [Read more about community school models in the report, “Great Public Schools for all Pittsburgh Children: A Community Based Plan.”]

Are community schools a magic bullet? Of course not. But the models do offer a new way of thinking about public schools – and there is some promising data coming from cities that have implemented the concept. An evaluation of 20 initiatives across the country showed improvement in student learning, attendance, and behavior as well as increased parent engagement, “[i]mproved safety and security, increased community pride, stronger relationships between school and community, and greater utilization of schools….” [Community Schools Research Brief, 2009]

What could community schools do here in Pittsburgh? What do you think? What happens next? Please come and be a part of this important conversation!

One thought on “Reporting Back on Community Schools

  1. I am very excited about the prospect of community schools here in Pittsburgh! It is comprehensive, wholistic and a very inspired way to work with children and their families. I have not been so hopeful about something in a long time! Can’t wait to hear more!

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