Mary Retta: Community Schools: What Are They and How Do They Work?
This piece comes from last July when it ran in Tenn Vogue, a magazine that has transcended its roots to become a source of serious journalism. In this piece, Mary Retta takes a look at the growing community schools movement.
The benefits of community schools are well-documented. A 2017 study from the Learning Policy Institute found that for every dollar invested, community schools yield up to “$15 in social value and economic benefits.” Often set up in low-income areas, the schools have proven especially important for students and families who experience higher rates of economic insecurity, food scarcity, and mental health challenges.
“We now have a strong body of scientific evidence that supports our understanding that students learn best when their holistic needs are met — when we address their social, emotional, and academic development,” Karen Quartz, director of the UCLA Center for Community Schooling, told Teen Vogue. “Community schools strive to create school environments where strong, trusting, and loving relationships are at the center. Through relationships, students practice the skills and receive the support they need to solve problems, engage in their learning, and reach their full potential — skills that will help them succeed in school and beyond.”
Quartz gave a concrete example from the UCLA community school: The institution is located in an immigrant community where many people are not native English speakers, so they have a thriving multilingual program that meets the needs of these students.
The term has been used to describe a number of different models, some of them not very positive. But this piece looks at what the best of the models could accomplish.