When students’ basic needs are met by community schools, learning can flourish

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“’The suspension rate was high. MLK unfortunately had the highest rate of disciplinary referrals in the entire district,’ said Leslie Hu, MLK’s community school coordinator who added that standardized test scores were really low. The principal wanted to incorporate PBL, but knew students were distracted by a lack of basic needs that could not be met at home. Shifting to a community school model helped students with needs like food and medical care, and teachers like Founds were able invest more time in developing their teaching practice.

Schools aren’t typically designed to offer more than instruction, but by addressing basic needs, they’re finding that students can learn better. Cincinnati Public School Learning Centers, Oakland Unified School District and even Lebron James’ I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, are community schools that lend a helpful framework for closing achievement gaps and improving student outcomes.

“The community school approach is where you take the resources that you think children and families need to really be successful. And you bring all those resources within the school building,” said Dr. Angela Diaz, the director of the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center.

For example, a community school can help families access health and safety needs by having a medical clinic, dental services, food programs and counselor services on campus.”


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