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PRESS RELEASE: Education, Health, Youth, and Community Leaders United Behind School-Community Partnerships in a Reauthorized ESEA

09/30/11

(Washington, DC) – Seventy-six local, state, and national organizations, representing education, youth development, health and social services, community development, and higher education, announced a set of recommendations today to inform the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

These Coalition for Community Schools Partners believe that the education of our children and youth is a shared responsibility among schools and communities. "The new ESEA must unleash the innovation and problem-solving capacity of America's communities, so we can create the conditions that will enable all children to succeed," said Ira Harkavy, Coalition Chair and Director of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania. The principles that undergird the community school accomplish just this.

Community schools are a vehicle for bringing together family, school, and community partners and resources so that every student has the learning opportunities and support they need to succeed. Community schools, using resources more effectively and efficiently, are getting results in more and more diverse places such as Cincinnati, Tulsa, Nashville, Kansas City (MO), Los Angeles, Lehigh Valley (PA), and Portland (OR).

With increased federal recognition, these communities—and many more like them—can do much more. The Coalition’s ESEA Reauthorization Statement offers recommendations which reflect the best principles of successful community schools across the nation.

Specifically, we recommend that the Community School strategy be a permissible intervention for schools in need of improvement. S. 616, the Supporting Community Schools Act, proposes just that. Additionally, the Coalition proposes greater incentives for public/private school and-community partnerships; development of a comprehensive accountability framework that goes far beyond test scores and improves access to data on multiple indicators of student well-being; stronger emphasis on family and youth involvement; and better coordination and more effective and efficient use of dollars across federal agencies.

"Surely our schools need effective principals and teachers, but just as surely, our young people and their families need more connections, more support, and more opportunities to be successful. We must do both and we can only do that if communities and schools work together. On behalf of America’s youth and families, we urge Congress to reauthorize ESEA so that it supports the development of more and more effective community schools," said Martin Blank, Director of the Coalition for Community Schools and President of the Institute for Educational Leadership.

Leaders from the major Coalition partners echo Blank and offer their public support for these recommendations:

American Association of School Administrators
: "Schools and communities both play a crucial role in helping our nation’s young people develop into tomorrow’s leaders and our nation’s future. The community school recommendations for ESEA give schools and communities the leverage and resources they need to support their efforts in getting students ready to succeed. It is crucial that ESEA reauthorization discussions include and reflect student health and well-being for the important role they play in student learning." ~ Daniel Domenech, Executive Director

American Federation of Teachers
: "While good teaching is crucial to student learning, too many children come to school with needs that are beyond a teacher’s control and that impede their ability to succeed academically. Community schools—that can include in-school medical, dental and counseling services—help level the playing field for disadvantaged children. The community school recommendations for ESEA will help schools and communities provide needed services so the most vulnerable students can succeed." ~ Randi Weingarten, President

American Public Health Association
: "High school completion is an educational issue and a public health issue. Educational success starts with healthy students, and students who complete high school are more likely to have a lifetime of better health and economic opportunities. As this framework describes, the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act must recognize health and well-being as the essential element for learning success and ensure its presence to not only reduce school dropout but health disparities, as well."
~ J. Alan Baker, Interim Executive Director

First Focus
: "Our nation needs, and our children deserve, a comprehensive approach to education. In order to ensure that every student has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential, we must address the needs that our children bring into the classroom. A child who is hungry, in poor health, or experiencing instability at home may struggle academically and it is our collective responsibility – parents, communities, and schools – by incorporating a community schools strategy into ESEA reauthorization, we encourage all stakeholders to work together and guarantee that each child has an opportunity to learn and succeed. These ESEA recommendations build a collaborative framework that builds community ownership for change, and strengthens results for children and youth across the country. " ~ Bruce Lesley, President

National Assembly on School Based Health Care
: "I believe that these recommendations for ESEA reauthorization will help ensure that Federal education reform will support programs that are proven to help students achieve. School-based health centers have a track record of keeping students healthy and learning." Tamara Copeland, President

National Human Services Assembly
and National Collaboration for Youth: "The Coalition’s statement presents comprehensive solutions that would go a long way in improving our nation’s education system. Community schools are a proven strategy for improving academic achievement. Policymakers would be well-advised to take note of these timely recommendations." ~ Irv Katz, President & CEO

National Education Association
: "Teachers and support professionals know that students deserve the best in their classrooms. But learning does not stop there. To do well in school, students need good nutrition, dental and medical services, and counseling programs so they are ready to learn when they enter school and every day thereafter. The community school recommendations for ESEA will help disadvantaged students access the supports they need to succeed. It is past time for Congress to recognize that students don’t succeed by test scores alone." ~ Dennis Van Roekel, President

Public Education Network
: "We know from experience, evidence and best practice that when schools and communities converge around the needs of the child, our students succeed both academically and in life. In this period of economic strain and declining resources, if we are to increase the number of poor and disadvantaged children prepared for college, Congress must require greater integration, coordination, and collaboration. "~ Wendy D. Puriefoy, President
 

Click here for ESEA recommendations.

Download a PDF of the press release.

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The Coalition for Community Schools is an alliance of national, state and local organizations in education K-16, youth development, community planning and development, family support, health and human services, higher education institutions, government and philanthropy as well as national, state and local community school networks. The Coalition advocates for community schools as the vehicle for strengthening schools, families and communities so that together they can improve student learning. It is a program of the Institute for Educational Leadership.
 
For more information on community schools please visit: www.communityschools.org.


 

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