Real Solutions for Kids and Communities: Community Schools

Community schools make a difference in the lives of children, families, educators and their communities each and every day. By moving beyond the normal confines of the school and partnering with local stakeholders, community schools provide real solutions to the unique problems of the students and families they serve, and are another major step forward in reclaiming the promise of public education.

Community schools aren’t just centers of education; they’re the new heart of the community itself that help create better conditions for both teaching and learning. They’re a place where teachers, families, community members and service providers can come together in coordinated, purposeful and results-focused partnerships. These schools become the center of their communities by providing the services to students, families and neighbors that best serve their needs, while at the same time promoting stable, healthy neighborhoods. This isn’t just another program: It’s a paradigm shift in the way we think about schools that goes well beyond just providing supports and services for students.

Blogs and Articles

This year, the Rome Teachers Association celebrated the fifth anniversary of a community schools network that began as one school in Rome and grew into 53 schools in 15 districts and eight counties. It’s been a busy five years.

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This school has everything: vital and respected classified staff, loving families, a caring principal and teachers, a supportive community—even an emotional support dog. That’s why, when AFT President Randi Weingarten visited the school together with the Oregon School Employees Association, their recognition put a cherry on top.

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One of the things I love about my small northern Minnesota community is that we look out for each other. I can’t count the number of people who checked in at the school before the holidays to be sure all our families had food and other necessities over the break.

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The first two weeks of March went on as any others. Our plans for ribbon cuttings at three new schools were underway, thanks to the AFT Innovation Fund — which had already helped us expand our community school efforts several years back.

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We know that children are more likely to thrive at community schools with wraparound services like food banks, social workers and healthcare—but more importantly, with caring relationships among families, educators and staff.

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On Saturday four AFT leaders shared their experiences growing community schools, each zealously advocating for these hubs where services such as healthcare, food pantries, housing assistance and more are available, ensuring students’ basic needs are met so that they can focus on learning. “This is pretty much the most important educational and social strategy that we can have that will help kids thrive,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.

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Video Playlist

 

American Educator

How a Union-Driven Effort Supports Students and Families in Central New York
By Jennifer Dubin

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Union Leaders Describe Their Community School Journeys
Q&A with Jessica Tang, Jennifer Johnson, Katrina Kickbush

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From Wraparound Services to Co-Leadership
By Emily Lubin Woods

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