Opinion: What We Need are Community Schools
By Christy Martin, Ed.D.
Students are suffering
Our highest poverty districts are suffering. Schools are essentially closed in these districts, and students are struggling with online models, sketchy Internet access, lack of hardware and instruction that is based on in-person models, not online models. Many of these youth do not have support at home and need the structure and safety net that school provides.
Community schools might be an answer
Model after model has been used to improve schools when one broad and sweeping reform could provide the answer. Community schools that provide one-stop services to high needs communities can assist more than students in high poverty zones, they serve the family and community as well.
Community Schools provide day care in the form of early and late child-care services that are not just babysitting but promote life skills and reinforce school skills. Evening meals are often served, not just for the students but for parents and community members that need the food. Classes are held in the evening for adults as well as students, focusing on practical living skills like money management, cooking and job skills. This is a 12-month per year operation that is practically a 24/7 one as well. High poverty students and parents need the support and schools have the facilities to help.
Social services, counseling and employment services are another aspect in these one-stop facilities. When the shadow of COVID-19 lifts, we must provide stability, counseling, and more to troubled families and students. Academic losses will need remediation for our nation’s economic future to be stable and prosperous and our children need a positive outlook for the future. Juvenile justice could find a home in these schools and not just school resource officers, but community policing could be housed in schools.
Imagine a school with its own community garden, a clinic that has extended hours for adults as well as children, a cafeteria with hot meal take-out, yoga classes for all and social services available for all ages; food and clothing banks and 24/7 community policing housed on its campus. High school equivalency classes and English second language classes might be offered in the evenings and weekends. Imagine what that might do for the future of a child in an at-risk home or community. What might it do for a community?
Right now, we can be planning and reflecting on what might be, extending a hand and planting a seed with other agencies, speaking about the vision for our young people. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I have a dream.”
About the author
Christy Martin recently retired after more than 35 years as an educator K-12 and post-secondary as well as several years as a coordinator of programs for youth aging out of foster care. She writes about what she knows from experiences in education and social services. Christy welcomes comments on her articles. Communicate with her via email at email@example.com. She can also be found on Christy Martin | Facebook, Christy S. Martin (@ChristySMartin1) / Twitter, and (4) Christy Martin, Ed.D. | LinkedIn.
This article was originally published by The Learning Counsel, a research institute and news media hub focused on providing context for the shift in education to digital curriculum.