Press Release

AFT President To Discuss Community Schools at National Forum

For Release: 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Tom Lansworth

WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, an ardent advocate of community schools and the wraparound services they deliver to disadvantaged children and their families, will speak Thursday at the 2010 National Forum on Community Schools in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is developing a community school program, which is a collaboration among the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, the University of Pennsylvania’s Netter Center for Community Partnerships, the school district’s community partners and parents.

Through partnerships with various agencies and community resource organizations, community schools offer an array of academic supports and other services to students and their families. Community schools become hubs of the community by being open before and beyond the regular school day, offering such programs as academic assistance for students, preschool programs, health and social services, and adult literacy classes.

“The community must be an active partner in addressing the challenges affecting disadvantaged youth, their families and the neighborhoods where they live,” Weingarten said. “Research shows that student success is influenced by out-of-school factors, such as poverty and family stability. Community schools can help level the playing field.”

More than 1,100 community school supporters and practitioners, federal officials, and local, state and federal policymakers are participating in the national forum in Philadelphia.

Weingarten and National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel are scheduled to speak on Thursday at noon at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. Their discussion will be moderated by Martin Blank of the Coalition for Community Schools, which is sponsoring the forum along with the Netter Center for Community Partnerships.

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.