California Department of Education
Taking Center Stage – Act II
"Too often when I talk to educators in the field, what I hear from them is that they don’t have the ability to provide examples to students of how academic skills will apply in the real world . . . I propose, based on a recommendation from my P-16 Council, a statewide expansion of this type of program, so that every school district can work with business and community partners to eliminate the achievement gap and prepare every student to succeed."1
Community is a broad term and includes individuals, businesses, local and state agencies, school districts, county offices of education, labor organizations, nonprofit organizations, police, health organizations, firefighters, and service clubs.
Community partners offer middle school students an invitation to explore the larger community, learn about potential careers, and meet role models who will help them set goals for their futures. Community partners also offer middle grades students a chance to make a difference in their world through service-learning that combines two effective approaches to education and youth development: experiential learning and community service.
Community partnerships also enhance the core curriculum. For example, history and English essays become real when students interview people who have experienced historic events or served in unique careers or leadership positions. Both relevance and creative expression are important aspects of adolescent learning. Helping students to engage in school by combining writing exercises with a chance to learn about real people and their experiences deepens the learning experience.
San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools
The San Bernardino Alliance for Education is a partnership of more than 1,200 stakeholders. Business, labor, local government, community, and faith-based organizations are joining educators in a partnership committed to creating successful students and a skilled and educated workforce. Businesses are showing classroom teachers the real-world applications of academic standards. Community members are strengthening relationships with students through mentoring, tutoring, and internships. Most important of all, this alliance recognizes that children will not meet their academic potential unless their needs for health, safety, and family security are also met.
The California School Boards Association highlights exemplary Partnerships and Collaboratives every year as a part of the Association’s Golden Bell Awards. The criteria for the award specify that the program "includes collaborations between school districts, county offices of education, cities and counties to strengthen instructional supports for students or maximize resources and community support. Also includes partnerships with schools and businesses or community-based organizations."2
One way to measure the health of a school or district is to look at the support it receives from its community and its ability to prepare students for college. Through Ed-Data, educators and community partners can find the latest information on bond and parcel tax elections as well as state test results for the local schools and the district.
Many California school districts ask voters to support their schools through parcel taxes for educational programs or bond measures for construction and renovation of schools. The results of these elections are posted on the Ed-Data site.
Canyon Middle School, Castro Valley Unified School District, a 2007 Schools to Watch™-Taking Center Stage Model School
The community surrounding Canyon Middle School has consistently supported the school. For example, taxpayers passed multimillion-dollar bond measures that helped build the Performing Arts Center. Each year the community supports the student body magazine sale, as well as provide chaperones for dances and volunteers to help with the school garden.
Holmes International Middle School, Los Angeles Unified School District, a 2007 Schools to Watch™-Taking Center Stage Model School
Community volunteers support Holmes Middle School in a number of ways. For example, professional musicians work with the student choirs to help them produce community performances. Through the school’s performing arts program, Inside Out, students work with professional performance artists to write original works and perform them on the stage at a local university.
Many before or after school programs depend upon community partners. For example, the After School Education & Safety Program provides grants to schools and districts that collaborate with community partners to provide safe and educationally enriching alternatives for children and youths during non-school hours. The federal
21st Century Community Learning Centers program provides funding for programs to focus on academic achievement, enrichment, and family literacy. Eligible entities include districts, cities, counties, community-based organizations and others.
Involving language-minority parents/guardians
1Jack O'Connell, State of Education 2006. Prepared speech. Sacramento: California Department of Education, February 7, 2006.
2Partnerships and Collaboratives, (Outside Source) Golden Bell Awards, California School Boards Association.
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California Department of Education
1430 N Street
Sacramento, CA 95814