"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Friday, March 2, 2012

Community Education - It's Not Just For Pottery and Dance Classes

Springfield MO is testing a pilot  program for a community school.  This is not continuing education for adults, this is a full service community center housed in the public school. Their integrated focus is on academics, youth development, family support, health and social services and community development.  The belief is that such an approach leads to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities. Community schools combine various departments like Mental Health, Social Services and possibly family court services (as is done in St. Louis) to offer a range of supports and opportunities such as workshops for parents, and after-school programs for students - before, during and after school, and on weekends.

21st Century Community schools have been around since the 90s. The idea for them is a lot older and sprang from the 60s generation when communal living was experiencing a surge.  Arne Duncan, who is the former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, was a supporter of "schools as centers of community life".  Since his appointment to the post of Secretary of Education, community schools have become part of the national education agenda.

They are promoted to the community who benefits from access to school resources such as: teachers, computer labs, gymnasiums and classrooms. They offer an afterschool program model that provides services to students attending high-poverty, low-performing schools such as academic enrichment activities that can help students meet state and local achievement standards. Other programs like drug and violence prevention programs, literacy, counseling programs, art, music, and recreation programs, technology education programs, and character education programs all are designed to reinforce and complement the regular academic program and are available to students and parents.
[Springfield Associate Superintendent] Ben Hackenwerth said the community school strategy is to provide a holistic approach to students’ education and development. Such a school provides additional support and activities to help students succeed academically and stay on track to graduate.
“This is all about student success,” he said. “Supporting the families, engaging the communities … that’s why we’re trying this.”

Springfield Superintendent Norm Ridder and the school board have expressed support for piloting this approach locally.
Missouri has held 6 grant competitions for these 21st century community schools. Last year, of the 52 grants received by the state, 36 were from schools and, of those, 19 were awarded.  In comparison, only 10 were received from community based/non-profit organizations, and two from faith based organizations.  Four community based groups and one faith based group received awards.  Awards totaled $9,225,447.

The vision of the school of the future is one size fits all, and we know that to make that happen that size is going to be very large. School will become the Walmart of family life.  You can go there to do any number of things, from learn to read and write, to avoid drugs and alcohol or seek treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. You can receive mental health counseling, parenting classes and participate in basketball games. Keep in mind that any treatment you get there, if not paid for by your insurance, will only be protected by FERPA regulations, not HIPPA.  That means that any mental health notes or medical diagnosis done by school staff will be part of your child's record and will be automatically included in the longitudinal database of information sent to Washington.

School will provide the food the family eats (by design as these programs are targeted to schools who have 40% or more on reduced price lunch programs) and teach the family values and character. And best of all, because these are 21st century schools which are focused on providing the workforce for the 21st century, they will ultimately offer courses to aid people throughout their working careers.  It's the school for a lifetime.

So why do I find myself thinking about the Eagle's song Hotel California?

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
"Relax," said the night man,
"We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!"

Read more about community schools history here

1 comment:

  1. "Community Schools" or "21st Century Schools" or "Community Learning Center" concepts previously existed under the label "Community Education".

    Go to http://americandeception.com/ and type the words "community education" into the search window to get more info.

    There is one document in particular (from the early 80s) that should be read:


    Description: "This is "THE" major report on Community Education written by two superb researchers from Wisconsin, the late Ruth Feld and Jil Wilson. Its significance is enormous, not only for researchers, but for everyone on this planet, since community education is the UN's birth through death communistic plan to control all of us birth through death. Regionalism, sustainable development, community policing, faith-based initiaves, school-based clinics, etc., etc. come under community education (re-education, ed). This report covers in great detail: definition of community education (C.E.) UN/UNESCO, Change Agents in C.E., Strategies in C.E., Individually Guided Education in C.E., History of C.E., International C.E., Blueprint for Community-Centered Schools, Future of Education."


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