Community Building

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Over the next year, Sosne Kondé Policy Solutions will be compiling articles, studies, and other information about the positive effects of community building on school reform.  This may include such topics as:

  • Community Building
  • Teen and unplanned pregnancy prevention
  • Drop-out prevention and alternative programs
  • Coalition building
  • Partnership with other community institutions

Stay tuned!

September 6, 2016 -ENGAGING LOCAL LEADERS – A BIPARTISAN PATH TOWARD CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

A coalition of bipartisan lawmakers formed the Policing Strategies Working Group after a series of roundtables with  law enforcement and community leaders. The Group’s co-chairs, Reps. Goodlatte and Conyers, emphasized the role of local leaders in the discussion surrounding public safety, police accountability, and aggression towards law enforcement. As noted in Brookings’ “FixGov” blog on the subject, engaging state and local leaders is important not only for addressing community-police relations, but also for reforming the nation’s criminal justice system.  Criminal justice reform, overall, will have a positive impact on our nation’s schoolchildren, perhaps reducing the school-to prison pipeline and mass incarceration of their parents.  According to former Education Secretary Arne Duncan in a 2015 speech, such reforms could save $15 billion of taxpayer money too, which could be funneled directly into teachers.

September 22, 2016 – BROOKINGS REVIEW OF 20 YEARS SINCE WELFARE REFORM

No educational policy discussion is complete without a broader discussion of poverty, economic insecurity, and welfare.  Since welfare reform was passed in 1996, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program has generated a huge volume of research about its implementation and its effects, along with many lessons about the functioning and adequacy of the nation’s safety net.  For an in-depth discussion of child well-being, marriage and families, work and poverty, and state policy choices, listen to the Brookings Institution 20th Anniversary of Welfare Reform.

September 27, 2016 – STRENGTHENING A SCHOOL IN A RURAL, NATIVE AMERICAN COMMUNITY

Calcedeaver’s transformation from what one former teacher called a “hidden gem” to crown jewel is a tale of students trumping expectations and conquering their circumstances. It’s also a story of requited love: the passion a school has for its mostly Choctaw community, and the support that community gives back.  Read about this Alabama community.

October 4, 2016 – MAYORS’ ROLE IN SUPPORTING EDUCATION

Two mayors from the U.S. Conference of Mayors discuss how local leaders should work across party lines to build education partnerships and capacity in their communities. Read about it in this article.

October 17, 2016 – UNIVERSITY SUPPORT TO PROMISE ZONES

Currently, 22 high-poverty urban, rural and tribal communities are designated as Promise Zones, including two areas within the City of Los Angeles. The federal Promise Zones initiative addresses challenges in geographic areas of deep and persistent poverty by encouraging collaboration between the federal government, community organizations, the private sector, and state and local governments.  Because universities can play a critical role in helping communities measure results and improve performance over their 10-year designation, on September 23, 2016, the White House hosted a “Workshop on Research and University Engagement in Promise Zones,” bringing together government, community, and academic leaders to explore best practices and examples of success.  Workshop organizers hoped to launch a collaborative effort to scale models for university partnerships that are accelerating local progress, identify opportunities to contribute to larger learning about Promise Zones’ promising approach, and chart a path forward to ensure that communities have the support they need from local anchor institutions to succeed.  For the two Los Angeles Promise Zones, the Price Center for Social Innovation (CSI) serves as the lead research and evaluation partner, charged with gathering and analyzing data to measure the initiative’s outcomes over 10 years.  Read here for more details about the Los Angeles case study from a University of Southern California (USC) Price School of Public Policy professor.

November 16, 2016 – COMMUNITY READING PROGRAM – “BIG READ”

An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read showcases a diverse range of contemporary books and aims to inspire conversation and discovery.  The NEA Big Read annually supports approximately 75 dynamic community reading programs, each designed around a single NEA Big Read selection.  Applications are due January 26, 2017.  See NEA BIG READ for application guidelines.

December 2, 2016 – REDUCING RECIDIVISM FOR JUSTICE-INVOLVED YOUTH

The U.S. Department of Education has released new guides and resources to help justice-involved youth make a successful transition back to traditional school settings.  These resources promote successful transitions by emphasizing the importance of early planning and working with family, mentors, facility staff, and school employees at every stage of the process.

December 20, 2016 – NEW PROMISE NEIGHBORHOODS

According to its press release, the U.S. Department of Education announced six new winners of the Promise Neighborhood grant competition that awards money to organizations providing community-based and educational services to children and families. The grants are designed to create new partnerships between public and private entities with the goal of breaking the cycle of generational poverty in certain areas.  The 2016 grant awards total $33 million.  Winners are:

To date, the department has given out more than $286 million in Promise Neighborhoods grants to close to 700 schools and 1,000 community partners. For a list and description of awardees since 2010, see here.  For an Education Week article on the winners, read here.

January 4, 2017 – ARE DISPARATE DISICIPLINE RATES DUE TO RACISM? 

When the U.S. Department of Education reported that black students are subject to much harsher discipline than white students for the same offenses, the immediate assumption was that racism was the reason (“Violence in the Halls, Disorder in the Malls,” City Journal, Dec. 29, 2016).  But white students are disciplined at higher rates than Asian students.  Education Week blogger argues here that there is another side to the story.  He writes, “The chaos in classrooms is not limited, of course, to black students. But inner-city schools with disproportionate numbers of black students from broken homes are the venue for most of the disruption. Their lack of respect for teachers explains why black students who desperately want to learn there are denied the opportunity to do so.  It also explains why these schools are so hard to staff.  Consider what happened when the St. Paul Public Schools district in 2011 implemented its ‘Strong Schools, Strong Communities’ policy. The goal was to dramatically reduce the suspension rate for black students in order to bring equity to school discipline (“Mayhem in the Classroom,” The Weekly Standard, Apr. 18, 2016).  But what followed was an unmitigated disaster.  Nine teachers at a middle school quit because students were out of control.  A high school teacher was assaulted by a student, resulting in a traumatic brain injury.”

January 6, 2017 – THE “FAILURE CYCLE” CAUSING SHORTAGE OF BLACK MALE TEACHERS

For a hip-hop version of why there are so few black teachers, watch this PBS video.

January 9, 2017 – TEEN PREGNANCY PREVENTION & OPPORTUNITY NATION

Births to American teenagers have dropped 40 percent in the last decade, hitting an all-time low in 2014, according to the most recent federal data released in April 2016 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  But the U.S. teen pregnancy rate is still “substantially higher” than in other western, industrialized nations. “Higher unemployment and lower income and education are more common in communities with the highest teen birth rates, regardless of race,” the CDC said. Teen pregnancy can be a barrier to educational opportunity for girls, particularly those in low-income and other at-risk groups that may lack access to birth control, family support, and medical treatment. About half of teen mothers fail to earn a diploma before turning 22, research shows. Public health advocates credit a variety of factors for the dropping teen pregnancy rate, including expanded access to contraceptive information outside of schools, more teens choosing to delay sexual activity, improved sex education programs in some areas, and access to long-term contraceptive devices like IUDs.  For more, read the article here and the December 2015 fact sheet from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Strengthening and investing in families is critical to combatting generational poverty.  This is why The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy is part of the Opportunity Nation Coalition to expand opportunity and ensure young people get the right start in life.  “Our Opportunity Nation” is signed by more than 125 of our Coalition members. “There is no single solution to breaking the cycle of poverty, but by providing comprehensive services and conditions that support families in any form, we can increase the chances of parents raising children who will succeed in education, career, and life.”  See the   See also the National Campaign Against Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy – access maps.  For a local example of the importance of teen pregnancy prevention, teen birth rates found to be highest in Los Vegas neighborhoods with highest poverty rates, according to local health department mapping.  More information here.

January 11, 2017 – CONSERVATIVE TEAMS WITH BLACK COLLEGES ON EDUCATION AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE RESEARCH

Charles Koch, conservative philanthropist, is donating $25.6 million to historically black colleges and universities (HBCU).  Distributed over five years, the new gift will enable the Thurgood Marshall fund to launch the Center for Advancing Opportunity.  Based in Washington, the center will support HBCU faculty researching education, criminal justice and entrepreneurship in “fragile communities,” areas plagued by crime, troubled schools, and other economic and social problems, places where residents face “significant barriers” to opportunity.  The center also will award scholarships to HBCU students, sponsor academic forums and work with Gallup to survey targeted communities on issues of interest and develop a metric called an “opportunity index.” For more details, read here.

January 12, 2017 – FIVE KEY TRENDS IN U.S STUDENT PERFORMANCE, BY GROUP

The Economic Policy Institute reports on five key trends in educational achievement between 1996 – 2013.  Most significantly, the achievement gap between blacks and whites and between Hispanics and whites has apparently declined over time. However, until recently, the gap between higher- and lower-income students appeared to be increasing.  In contrast, Hispanic and Asian students who are English language learners (ELL) are falling further behind white students in mathematics and reading.  Attending a high-poverty school lowers math and reading achievement for students in ALL racial/ethnic groups, and this negative effect has not diminished over time. Finally, the statistics show that attending a school in which blacks and Hispanics make up more than 75 percent of the student body lowers achievement of black, Hispanic, and Asian students but does not negatively affect white students.

January 24, 2017 – PROPORTIONALITY OF STUDENT ARRESTS

In 43 states and the District of Columbia, black students are arrested at school at disproportionately high levels, an analysis of federal data by the Education Week Research Center finds.  One reason may be that black students are more likely than students in any other racial or ethnic group to attend schools with at least one onsite police officer, according to analysis of 2013-14 civil rights data, the most recent collected by the U.S. Department of Education. While only 29% of public schools have at law enforcement onsite, 74% of black high school students attend such a school.  All of these findings mirror a host of persistent disparities for students of color, including higher rates of school suspensions, less exposure to experienced educators, and lower likelihood of access to rigorous coursework. There is disagreement in the research and policy worlds about why certain groups of students are arrested at higher rates. Differences in local approaches to school safety and in exposure to out-of-school factors such as poverty and crime are among the reasons cited. Read more.

January 24, 2017 – EDUCATION AND RURAL AMERICA

For generations, when manufacturing supported entire communities, logging and fishing industries boomed, and family farming dominated the landscape, young people had multiple opportunities to stay in their thriving rural communities. Students who were able to go to college might return, if they chose, to open small businesses or work in upper management. Instead, the opinion piece suggests, rural schools themselves can be drivers of economic development. Entrepreneurial thinking by educational leaders at the state, school, and district levels can lead to greater opportunities for schools and communities to collaborate on attracting families, retooling local economies, and providing needed skills development to community members. Citizenship education is equally important to sustainable rural communities.

January 24, 2017 – REUSE OF CLOSED SCHOOLS

Public engagement is critical to any community renewal, but particularly important after a neighborhood public school is closed. Kansas City Public Schools, on the other hand, hired an urban planner to manage school reuse. The process prioritized community engagement, transparency and giving nonprofits with limited access to capital the chance to buy a school. Kansas City emphasized finding quality new uses for the schools over generating revenue for the district, which closed half its schools from 2009 to 2010. The Council of the Great City Schools, a nonprofit that advocates for big-city districts, will feature the district in a report of best practices for repurposing schools. This article describes the model used by Kansas City.

January 27, 2017 – MULTICULTURAL CHILDREN’S BOOK DAY

This year marks the 4th annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day, (MCBD) and the program continues to grow with last year, generating more than 96 million social media share impressions over three days (before, during, after).  This year, the organization has enlisted more than 400 bloggers/book reviewers from around the country, who will each post book reviews of diverse reads on January 27th.  In addition, MCBD will host a live Twitter Party @MCChildsBookDay that will inspire a meaningful conversation around diverse reads, provide book recommendations for parents, and offer free book giveaways every 6 minutes.  To learn more about Multicultural Children’s Book Day (501c3), visit www.multiculturalchildrensbookday.com.

February 7, 2017 – NATIVE AMERICAN COMMUNITIES

This article highlights the importance of partnering with Native American communities in establishing their educational systems.

February 15, 2017 – STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT IN ESSA

Learning First Alliance members and partner organizations created resources to explain how the stakeholder engagement provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) will fundamentally alter how education policy is made.

February 16, 2017 – IMPORTANCE OF POLITICAL WILL, STATES’ ECONOMIES, & EDUCATION

This Education Week blog, called “Education Won’t Solve Poverty, Social Isolation, and Resentment,” by the president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, describes how states and communities make their decisions about educational funding.  The author distinguishes between an economy based on low-skills, low-wage jobs (which chooses not to fund education when “selling cheap labor”) and a high-wage, high-skill, high-valued-added economy (where the politicians will design an education system accordingly).

March 17, 2017 – REFORMS NEED FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES

Written by Boston’s Assistant Superintendent of High Schools, Irvin Scott delineates the four ways educators can “successfully cultivate a deep connection to the community, considering parents at the forefront: 1) Build relational trust, 2) Engage and make investments in communities, 3) Consider the power of faith-based networks, and 4) Utilize an engagement continuum: Awareness, Understanding, Ownership, Leadership, and Innovation (AUOLI).” Read here.

April 4, 2017 – REGULATIONS MAY CHANGE REGARDING NAMING DROP-OUT FACTORIES

Because of President Trump’s hold on implementing ESSA regulations, states may not need to name their high schools where less than 67% of students graduate within four years. According to the 2016 report 2016 “Building a Grad Nation,” by the Everyone Graduates Center of Johns Hopkins University and Civic Enterprises, states have different concentrations of such high schools.  Based on 2014 data,

  • 22 states have fewer than 20 low-graduation-rate schools
  • 15 states have more than 50 low-graduation-rate schools(7 of those states have 100 or more)

Read more here.

April 5, 2017 – COMMUNITY SCHOOLS SERVE AS TURNAROUND SCHOOLS 

This blog, written by Walk Gardner, highlights the Union Public School District in Tulsa, Oklahoma as a model for successful community schools.

April 12, 2017 – RACE, SCHOOLING & REFORM – A DIFFICULT CONVERSATION 

Rick Hess of American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and Stacey Childress of the New Schools Venture Fund brought together convened about two dozen leading educational reformers from across the philosophical spectrum to sit down behind closed doors at the AEI. According to Hess in his Education Week blog, “Our goal was not to “solve” these deep-seated divisions. It was to see if a racially and ideologically diverse group of leaders could talk things through in a frank but cordial manner, and then reach some agreement on how to promote a more constructive debate going forward. The conversation was challenging, fascinating, and eye-opening.”  Read the joint statement based on that roundtable discussion.

April 17, 2017  STATE OF AMERICAN DREAM, EDUCATION REFORM, & FAMILY BREAKDOWN 

The following video features a panel at the America’s Promise Alliance’s Summit for America’s Future, held on Tuesday, April 17, in New York City. Beginning at 1:16:31, Moderator Alicia Menendez, an anchor on the Fusion television network, interviews Fordham Institute president Michael Petrilli and Darren Walker, president of Ford Foundation, about the state of the American Dream and how it relates to education reform, family breakdown, and more.

April 24, 2017 – THE “CAN-DO” OF WORK

To complement the traditional economic analysis of employment, Andy Smarick, American Enterprise Institute (AEI) fellow, placed “work problems” in five categories and created a new acronym for Culture, Access, Necessity, Desire, and Openings (CAN DO).  Read here.

April 26, 2017 – TRANSFORMING COMMUNITIES INTO ECOSYSTEMS THAT SUPPORT EDUCATION

New America released a new report on the guidance needed for community leaders to transform their communities into ecosystems that support family engagement, early learning, and digital inclusion.

May 2017 – CITY LEADERS CAN SUPPORT SCHOOLS

Public Impact for Education Cities is out with a look at how city leaders, not just school district leaders, catalyst and support systems of great schools. Read here.

May 2017 – NETWORKED IMPROVEMENT COMMUNITIES

The Networked Improvement Community (NIC) model is a promising way to address complex educational problems. NICs bring diverse expertise to bear on specific problems of practice. Building a strong and enduring improvement community requires an organizing entity — known as the network initiation team — to carry out specific strategic actions. Over the years, the Carnegie Foundation has been investigating and analyzing the features that give rise to successful NICs. The authors of “A Framework for the Initiation of Networked Improvement Communities,” written for Teachers College Record, synthesized those features into five domains, areas of activity that productive NICs have in common. Read this blog about the five essential building blocks for a successful networked improvement community.
Carnegie Foundation President Anthony S. Bryk discussed the promise of “networked improvement communities” to address educational inequities in his keynote, “Redressing Inequities: An Aspiration in Search of a Method,” at the 2017 Summit on Improvement in Education.  Learn more about the presentation here.

May 22, 2017 – SAN FRANCISCO COMMITS MONEY FOR TEACHER HOUSING

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee recently announced that he plans to use $44 million in city money to pay for the construction of up to 150 affordable rental units for teachers. As previously reported in Education Week, initiatives to provide affordable housing options to teachers can be found nationwide, with districts ranging from Santa Clara, Calif., to Hertford County, N.C., currently offering such programs.  Read the article here.