Secretary Duncan Affirms Support for Community School Strategy
Speaking at a Feb. 6 Askwith Forum, Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education’s lecture series, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan reaffirmed his support for full-service community schools as one of the most effective education reforms, especially in impoverished communities. Here’s an excerpt of his remarks in Cambridge, Mass.:
Everyone who has worked with poor children knows that poverty matters and affects school performance. But everyone who has witnessed the life-altering impact of great teachers and great principals knows that schools matter enormously too.
Boosting student achievement is not an either-or solution. Educators and the broader community should be attacking both in-school and out-of-school causes of low achievement.
I am a big believer in high-quality out-of-school programs, including full-service community schools. When I was CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, the city became the national leader in large-scale adoption of community schools. By the time I left, Chicago had more than 150 community schools—the most in the nation. Many of those schools—35—have full-service health clinics.
It never made sense to me that poor children should be expected to learn just as readily as other students when they couldn't see the blackboard, or when their mouths ached from untreated cavities and gum disease. So we dramatically expanded our free vision and dental programs in the schools.
Six years ago, about 12,500 students in the Chicago Public Schools received free vision services—and roughly 10,000 students got prescription eyeglasses.
Three years later, the number of students receiving free vision services and eyeglasses had both more than doubled. The dental care program grew even more dramatically, going from treating 1,250 students to more than 50,000 students. Obviously the need didn't increase at that pace; it was simply beginning to be addressed.
Video from the forum will be posted here in the coming days: http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news-impact/2012/02/live-stream-and-online-chat-arne-duncan-askwith-forum/