New Report: Community School Reform

Posted by on January 31, 2003

[From the PEN Weekly NewsBlast]


The issues and results vary by group, but community organizing for educational reform has achieved notable accomplishments coast to coast. The use of community-organizing strategies to reform urban public schools, particularly in poor neighborhoods and communities of color, has grown exponentially during the past decade. This movement is challenging traditional methods of parental involvement — particularly in low-performing schools with high staff and leadership turnover, bureaucratic and dysfunctional cultures, and a lack of adequate support and guidance from district staffs. In these schools, parents and youth are not asking for advisory participation; they are demanding that their schools strive toward higher levels of performance. Such demands are increasingly based on research and data and they are creating new ways to partner with educators to create a school climate conducive to learning. The key to community-driven school reform is that community organizing creates the social capital necessary to form equal partnerships between the community and the schools. This enables groups to break through bureaucratic paralysis and to generate public demand for policies and resources to eliminate disparities in the education system.

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