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Newsletter 5.5

Community Schools Online

Vicki Phillips of the Gates Foundation to speak at the 2008 National Forum
March 6, 2008 Vol. V, No. 5

In This Issue


Coalition Update: Report to the Field
Vicki Phillips of the Gates Foundation to speak at the 2008 National Forum
Register Now

In the News
FY 2009 Budget and its Effects on NCLB Reauthorization
Lehigh Valley’s South Mountain Middle School “christened” a Community School
A Vision of K-12 Students Today
John Merrow on Teacher-Student Relationships
Privatization: Louisiana Schools and After-school funding

Research, Publications, and Tools
Youth Engaged in Leadership and Learning Handbook
Indicators Show Early Signs of Dropouts
Learning First Alliance introduces New Website

Events and Opportunities
Arts Education Month Quest Bridge Scholarship Announcement
Mutual of America Announces Community Partnership Award


Coalition Update: Report to the Field

Vicki Phillips of Gates Foundation to speak at 2008 National Forum

The Coalition is delighted to announce that Vicki Phillips, Director of Education at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has agreed to speak at our much anticipated National Forum on Friday,May 2.

Philips joins other distinguished speakers including: Pedro Noguera, an important advocate of education reform and diversity who continuously supports strong and vibrant public schools; Susan Castillo, Oregon Chief State School Officer; Superintendents from Cincinnati and Evansville; leaders from international community schools initiatives and Ira Harkavy and Lisa Villarreal, Chair and Vice-Chair of the Coalition, respectively.

Other highlights of the Forum include site visits to SUN Community Schools, several panel discussions on issues facing community schools throughout the country and over 80 workshops on various education and community issues. To learn more, visit our website at

Register for the 10th Anniversary Forum Today! on our website. Early bird registration ends March 21. The last day to book your hotel rooms at the Portland Hilton is March 30th. Reservations can be made on the hotel website.

Also, we have added an evening cruise on May 1st for those of you who want to see more of Portland. Check out the cruise flyer and share the excitement with your colleagues who will be joining you in Portland. The cruise is limited to the first 300 people who sign up, so reserve your spot today when you register for the National Forum.

Lots of excitement for the conference has been stirred up by our promotional video. Click here to view our video, and be sure to share it with friends and colleagues.

Finally, help spread the word. Download the Conference Flyer off the Community Schools website to inform colleagues and networks about this great opportunity.

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In the News

FY 2009 Budget and its effects on No Child Left Behind Reauthorization

With President Bush unveiling his Financial Year 2009 Budget last week, many education experts are doubting the feasibility of No Child Left Behind reauthorization. The new budget allots $14.3 billion for Title I, far bellow the $25 million NCLB authorized for FY 2007. Education committee chairmen, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Rep. George Miller (D-Cali.), had been planning to seek reauthorization sometime in the spring. However, they had anticipated they would need Bush to commit to an increase of funds for FY 2009 to make the reauthorization feasible. Center on Education Policy President Jack Jennings said, “This type of budget certainly diminishes the possibility for anything happening,” referring to NCLB reauthorization. Strongly opposing the effects the budget would have on the likelihood for reauthorization, Rep. Miller said in a statement, “The President has made it clear he intends to end his administration the same way he started it- by breaking his promises to public schools and school children.” Sen. Kennedy reiterated his colleague’s frustration, saying, “Our schools and children deserve more than accounting gimmicks—they need new resources to make progress on reform.”

Lehigh Valley’s South Mountain Middle School “Christened” Community School

South Mountain Middle School, located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, was officially named a “community school” last week. With such a designation comes and influx of money, teams of social workers, assistance from local businesses and a number of new volunteers. Partnered with the United Way of Greater Lehigh Valley, South Mountain Middle School anticipates becoming a vibrant neighborhood hub by making an array of after-school services and programs available to students, their families, and neighbors. To read more, click here.

A Vision of K-12 Today

There have been many positive reviews of the video recently placed on YouTube, “A Vision of K-12 Today.” The video addresses the need for students, teachers, and educators to utilize new technologies in ways which engage students and help them to develop critical thinking skills. It also calls for district leaders to provide teachers with the tools and training needed to effectively utilize these new technologies. To view the video, click here.

John Merrow on Teacher-Student Relationships

According to John Merrow, “The teaching mission is complex and difficult, and yet oh so vital. Teachers can never put up a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner, because they are a bridge, not an endpoint… the teachers’ job is to help their students build a self, create the entity that will be their company throughout their lives.” Merrow, an education correspondent for The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, recently wrote an article reflecting on his impact on students in the mid-1960s as a high school English teacher in Port Washington, New York. Calling on recent encounters with former students at a 40 year reunion, he offers insight into teaching methods, many of which he learned from his own high school teachers, which most engage and challenge students in and outside of the classroom. To read the full article, click here.

Privatization proposed for Louisiana Public Schools and for Various After-school Programs

With many schools already receiving failing marks, and many more on the cusp of failure, Louisiana is turning its attention towards new ways to improve the educational opportunities of its youth. 11 schools have already been categorized as “chronically failing,” and state schools Superintendent Paul G. Pastorek predicts that up to 48 of Louisiana’s public schools may be subject to takeover by the end of the year. State education leaders now face the task of determining the futures of each of these schools. One option would be the transfer of these schools to the state-run Recovery Schools District, which was put in charge of most of New Orleans’ public schools following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. However, many officials, Pastorek included, are calling on state administrators to explore other options. Many have advocated turning to experts in local school districts, national charter schools groups, universities, for-profit education management organizations, and community organizations. To read more about this story, Click here.

Also facing privatization is funding for the nation’s after-school programs. In the FY 2009 budget request, the Bush administration proposed funding $800 million in 21 st Century Learning Opportunities scholarships. These funds would likely supplant the 26,000 21st Century Community Learning Centers which currently provide after-school programming for 1.3 million students nationwide, mostly in high-poverty, low-performing schools. According to Jodi Grant, executive director of the Afterschool Alliance, calls the proposal “disastrous for after-school programs receiving federal funds.” According to her, the proposal cuts funding by 27%, denying hundreds of thousands of children quality after-school programs. Additionally, it would convert the already successful 21 st Century initiative into a “risky and unwise voucher program.” To read Afterschool Alliance’s full response to Bush’s proposal, click here.


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Research, Publications and Tools

:Youth Engaged in Leadership and Learning Handbook Now Available

Our partners at the John W. Gardner Center have announced the release of the 2nd edition of Youth Engaged in Leadership and Learning (YELL) Handbook. The book is designed as a resource for program staff, teachers, and community leaders to support youth as socially conscious leaders and partners in community renewal, positive change, and personal growth. It is a great resource for in-school and after school programs. To learn more about the handbook and download a free copy, visit the John W. Gardner Center's website.

Study Finds Warning Signs for Dropouts

New research released in parallel studies by The Johns Hopkins University and The University of Chicago’s Consortium on Chicago School Reform indicates that certain factors, particularly attendance, attention in class, and early math and reading grades, play a large role in determining whether or not students will graduate from high school. The studies found that poor grades, minor misbehavior and truancy during sixth and ninth grade (transition years) were very strong predictors of a students likelihood of graduating high school in four years. According to Robert Balfanez of the Johns Hopkins’ Center for Social Organization of Schools, experts must not only focus on fixing both middle schools and high schools to ensure that students are receiving a proper education. While some argue students who exhibit these risk factors will “grow out of it” by high school, the research shows that without early intervention, these students will not make it to graduation. In its partner study, The University of Chicago’s Elaine Allensworth found that students “who have a D or less GPA at the end of freshman year have almost no shot at graduation.” According to Allensworth, D+ and C- students are the best candidates to target for intervention. For more information, visit the Center for Social Organization of Schools or the Consortium on Chicago School Research.

Arts Education Month

Keep Arts in Schools is an online community for advocates, educators and organizations to voice their support of the arts in education. In conjunction with Arts Education Month (March) the organization has compiled an advocate toolkit to assist supporters in promoting the arts as part of a well-rounded, quality education Visit the Keep Arts in Schools website to download the advocate toolkit.

Learning First Alliance Introduces New Website

The Learning First Alliance has introduced a new website aimed at inspiring a fresh, 21st century vision for public schools. provides real examples of what is working in public schools and districts across the country. Included on the website are imaginative strategies to help students succeed, interviews with leading educational thinkers, and the story of the Tukwila Community Schools, a winner of the Community Schools National Award of Excellence.

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Events and Opportunities

QuestBridge Scholarship Announcement

QuestBridge, is a non-profit program which has worked for 14 years to help outstanding low-income students gain access to top-tier colleges, has announced this year’s College Prep Scholarship. This award levels the playing field of college admissions by equipping low-income high school juniors with the knowledge necessary to compete for admission in the nation’s most selective colleges. The scholarship application is due March 31, 2008. For more information, click here.

Mutual of America Announces Community Partnership Award

Mutual of America Life Insurance Company has announced the annual Community Partnership Award to recognize outstanding nonprofit organizations which have facilitated partnerships to build cohesive communities. Created in 1996, the award aims to distinguish groups who have shown exemplary leadership in creating and sustaining equal partnerships with public, private and social sector leaders. To read more about the Award, and for more information about applying, please click here. Applications must be received by April 1, 2008.

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