PART ONE: THE COMMUNITY SCHOOLS STRATEGY
Ours is a robust, youthful, and determined nation. When families, schools, and community partners join together in common purpose, we can ensure that America’s promise—equal opportunity and freedom with responsibility—stays strong.
Since our founding, public education has been charged with imparting both the democratic spirit and can-do skills each generation needs to capitalize on and expand our nation’s many opportunities. In every era, schools have played a central role in meeting the charge. Today is no different. Fully preparing our young people for tomorrow is a task that belongs to all of us.
A VISION AND A VEHICLE FOR CHANGE
A community schools strategy is a collaborative leadership approach designed to ensure that every student graduates from high school ready for college and/or career and prepared for a successful life as a family member and citizen. It offers a vision of schools, communities, and families linked in common purpose.
Experience demonstrates that the effectiveness of a community schools strategy is based on a culture that builds collective trust and promotes a set of core principles (Figure 1), including high expectations for schools and students, reliance on family and community strengths, and the development of the whole child as critical fac¬tors for student success. A set of structural elements, including partnerships, alignment of funding streams with the natural assets of communities, and the integration of academic learning with essential supports and opportunities, helps diverse communities craft their own vehicle for change. Further, it recognizes that parents and care givers play a critical role in their children’s social, emotional, physical, and academic development while intentionally supporting parents/care givers in their role as their child’s chief advocate.
Figure 1. Community School Core Principles
- Shared vision and accountability for results. A clear, mutually agreed-upon vision focused on results drives the work of community schools. Agreements enable partners to hold each other accountable and move beyond "turf battles."
- Strong partnerships. Partners share resources and expertise and collaborate to design community schools and make them work.
- High expectations for all. Community schools are organized to support learning. Children, youth, and adults are expected to learn to a high standard and to become contributing members of their community.
- Community strengths. Community schools marshal the assets of the entire community, including the people who live and work there, local organizations, and the school.
- Respect for diversity. Community schools know their communities. They develop respect and a strong, positive identity for people of diverse backgrounds and are committed to the welfare of the whole community.
- Local decision making. To unleash the power of local communities, local leaders make decisions about their community schools strategy while people in individual schools respond to their unique circumstances.