The COVID-19 crisis has made it clear that schools offer much more than learning, with many families struggling to offset the sudden loss of support for meals, child care and other services.
As districts explore ways to support students through the economically uncertain times ahead, some are looking to the “community school” model: an approach that integrates health and medical care, social services, mentoring and other resources with academics in K-12 schools.
It takes an array of community partners to meet students’ needs, especially in high-poverty urban areas, says Milbrey McLaughlin, a professor emerita at Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE) and founder of the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities. “Schools can’t do it alone.”
On this episode of School’s In, McLaughlin joins GSE Dean Dan Schwartz and Senior Lecturer Denise Pope to talk about what it takes to create a full-service community school district, where schools mobilize and deliver community resources as an integrated part of the school day.
McLaughlin’s new book, The Way We Do School: The Making of Oakland’s Full-Service Community School District, offers an in-depth profile of the nation’s most ambitious community school initiative: a nearly 10-year effort to transform all 86 district schools in Oakland, Calif., into community schools.
“It’s top-down support for bottom-up change,” says McLaughlin, noting that the program has stayed strong despite the district’s considerable challenges. “Oakland has had five superintendents in eight years. Even with that kind of leadership turnover, the plan remains in place.”
Subscribe to our monthly newsletter.