The Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaces No Child Left Behind, contains promising language to expand the programs and reach of community schools. For a general summary of its potential for community schools, please read the following ESSA commentary in The Washington Post by Martin Blank, the Executive Director of the Coalition for Community Schools: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/03/11/is-a-new-day-really-dawning-with-no-child-left-behinds-successor-law/?postshare=7661457703376842&tid=ss_mail
In particular, Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act contains key provisions in support of community schools, including:
- The mention of community partners who can provide needs assessments and a range of services within schools
- The use of non-academic indicators to measure school improvement
- The improvement of “school conditions for student learning” and identification of resource inequities
- Comprehensive needs assessments and schoolwide programs for targeted schools
In January, the Coalition for Community Schools submitted a letter to the U.S. Department of Education in support of community school policies related to ESSA. The letter and other information about how ESSA can support community schools is available here:
The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) opened its first community schools in 1992 and 1993 in the Washington Heights section of New York City to offer expanded social services and academic supports to its significant immigrant population. Since then, the organization has slowly expanded throughout some of the highest-poverty neighborhoods in the city, including East Harlem, the South Bronx and State Island. Today CAS collaborates with 19 community schools that are based on a “developmental triangle” of strong academic instruction, enrichment opportunities, and an array of health and social services designed to remove barriers to students’ success.
Then in 2014, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged $150 million to 94 “renewal schools” over the next two years, which added instructional time, professional teacher training, summer school programs and health/mental health services. The New York Times has recently published several interesting articles about the successes, challenges and research at these and other community schools throughout the country, and I will continue to post this information. Given New York City’s size and the scale of resources (now $400 million) devoted to the community school model, other communities are keeping close watch on its developments. Below are a few of the most recent articles about community schools in New York City.
For more information about the concept and fundamentals of community schools: