How would you describe what effective ‘community partnerships’ for your school or the particular context of your district look like? How might they be a dynamic and positive force to better educate our students? How would you argue that a strategic policy focus on community partnerships makes sense right now?
By the nature of being in a reasonably-sized city, we are lucky in Boston to have a number of community-based organizations, social service providers and even initiatives that relate to the idea of fostering better community partnerships. Matched with a sizeable school district with 143 schools and a projected SY ’09 student enrollment of 55,000 students, there is not only significant opportunity, but in my opinion, a particular need to be more deliberate about real working partnerships for the benefit of our students, their families and the city at large.
Many schools have many different types of community partnerships, ranging from connections with college preparatory services, to day care to a range of other extracurricular opportunities. Systematically, though? In terms of a concerted effort to name ‘community partnerships’ as a core principle of the way we ‘do our work?’ Not so much.
There are a number of groups or organizations that have been working on this issue of systemic approaches, however. Some include the Boston Deltas office and the work of the Full Service Community Roundtable. I am also now involved with a small working group through an initiative called Boston Leaders for the Future of Education on the full service community schools model.
I do believe in this kind of work and I can’t help but think with the particular incentives offered now to states and districts to be innovative with the use of ARRA funds, it’s time to really advocate.