You’ve probably heard the good news by now, CA has committed $3 BILLION to the creation and support of Community Schools. This is a huge victory made possible by numerous grassroots organizers, youth leaders and adult allies! But now we need to focus on the details of how that funding will be used.
Many folks are asking: What exactly are Community Schools? Community Schools are public schools transformed into spaces where children and youth, families, educators and residents are connected and share leadership. They are public schools designed to address long-standing inequities in our communities by centering student and family voices and supporting the leadership and skills of Black families and families of color.
While no two Community Schools need to look alike, they all should have the same goals:
- Building a racially just, culturally sustaining, student-centered education system.
- Centering racially just relationships between students, families, educators, and community partners.
- Affirming student and family resiliency, cultural wealth, and skills to devise solutions that are creative and responsive to their actual needs.
- Creating a positive learning environment that prioritizes the needs of students and families to achieve better learning outcomes.
Check out this case study of Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez High School from our friends at Learning Policy Institute to see the power of the community school model.
“If we prioritized community schools we could address what students and families of color value; relationships, collaboration & creating racially just schools.” – Rochelle Berdan, CFJ Oakland Youth Leader
Earlier this winter, the California Department of Education hosted community engagement forums across the state and collaborated with CA Partnership for the Future of Learning (CA PFL) and the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color to hear directly from more than 600 students, families, and community members about their vision for community schools. From food pantries and parent universities to community representation in staffing; together we’re reimagining how our schools can nurture our communities and transform our futures.
Some of the top themes emerging from the forums include:
- Power-sharing with Students, Families, Educators and Community Partners
- Trusting Relationships and Communication
- Learning Must Be Effective, Inspiring and Culturally Rooted
- Inclusive, Safe, and Police-Free Schools
- Schools Need More Resources and Diversity to Reflect the Communities They Serve
- The Urgent Need to Integrate Mental Health and Wellness
This initial $3 Billion investment has the power to transform our schools into places of healing, power and leadership for our students and families BUT only if youth, parents and communities are centered in the process! Stay tuned for more engagement events and Community School updates this spring!
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