The future of community schools

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Panelists Katie Cangemi of United Way of Metropolitan Chicago; Jane Mentzinger of Communities In Schools of Chicago; and Melissa Trumbull Mitchell of the Federation for Community Schools discuss the role of community schools in education reform.

Panelists Katie Cangemi of United Way of Metropolitan Chicago; Jane Mentzinger of Communities In Schools of Chicago; and Melissa Trumbull Mitchell of the Federation for Community Schools discuss the role of community schools in education reform.

Communities In Schools of Chicago Executive Director Jane Mentzinger said at this morning’s Catalyst Conversation that the Diplomas Now program, which currently serves Chicago Talent Development High School, will expand to Hope College Prep and Gage Park High School in the fall.

The Diplomas Now program, funded through a federal Investing in Innovation grant, brings in a social worker to coordinate a school’s community partnerships and school-wide supports — a key component of community school programs. At Chicago Talent, it is social worker Paul Fagen, who was profiled in a recent Catalyst In Depth. His job is also to provide individualized counseling for students whose grades and attendance are slipping.

Below, check out tweets from this morning’s Catalyst Conversation on community schools and education reform.

The future of community schools

Communities In Schools of Chicago Executive Director Jane Mentzinger said at this morning’s Catalyst Conversation that the Diplomas Now program, which currently serves Chicago Talent Development High School, will expand to Hope College Prep and Gage Park High School in the fall.

Storified by Catalyst Chicago Mag · Thu, Jun 21 2012 14:06:03

The Diplomas Now program, funded through a federal Investing in Innovation grant, brings in a social worker to coordinate a school’s community partnerships and school-wide supports — a key component of community school programs. At Chicago Talent, it is social worker Paul Fagen, who was profiled in a recent Catalyst In Depth. His job is also to provide individualized counseling for students whose grades and attendance are slipping.

Below, check out tweets from this morning’s Catalyst Conversation on community schools and education reform.

Morrison – Youth Guidance just got under 2wks notice 4 community schl programs will lose funding June 30, including Parker in Englewood.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Will be live-tweeting this morning from Catalyst Conversation on the role of community schools in education reform.Catalyst Chicago Mag
We have reps form the Federation of Community Schools, Communities in Schools of Chicago, and United Way of Metropolitan Chicago.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Question from moderator Linda Lenz: in this time of government and policy changes, are your organizations changing?Catalyst Chicago Mag
Melissa Mitchell, Federation of Community Schools: the financial crisis offers an unprecedented opportunity to collaborate, break down silosCatalyst Chicago Mag
Mitchell: new administration in CPS offers opportunities to identify existing resources and use them in new ways.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Mitchell: example of using resources creatively is Evansville Ind – cooperation between city & district, lots of mental health services.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Mentzinger: active outreach to identify providers can help fill the gap in tough times. There’s a lot of interest in serving kidsCatalyst Chicago Mag
Mentzinger of Communities in Schools – despite economic crisis, the group welcomed 30 new organizations as partners this year.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Q- do you have data on soft skills as well, in addition to droput rates?Catalyst Chicago Mag
Mitchell – the Nat’l Federation of Community Schools is spearheading an effort to evaluate if student social emotional needs are being met.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Q. What are the requirements to be a community school?Catalyst Chicago Mag
Mitchell: It is key to have a full time person coordinating programs; after school programs that don’t duplicate school day.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Mitchell: It’s also important for parent involvement to be a 2-way street, with school meeting parent needs and building on parent assets.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Mentzinger: "there are no community schools police" – anyone can call themselves a community school regardless of programming.Catalyst Chicago Mag
United Way’s Kathleen Cangemi: It’s important to make sure community schools see families & communities as part of solution, not a problem.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Q. Do you see a willingness at the district and the city level to create partnerships?Catalyst Chicago Mag
Mitchell: Scarcity of resources is forcing organizations to access others’ resources in order to accomplish their own goals.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Mitchell: People know they need to collaborate, but actually doing that is where the challenge lies.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Panelists also discussed the effect the longer CPS school day, which starts in the fall, will have on community schools.
Cangemi – The community school model lends itself naturally to the collaboration required by the longer day.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Mentzinger – extending school day is a key part of community schools’ mission. Partnerships will help schls fill day w enriching activities.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Mitchell – Mental health services or arts could be integrated into the school day. Kids can’t just be sitting doing worksheets.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Audience member – CPS’ lack of funding for longer schl day is causing schools to rely on organizations that provide free services.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Mitchell: If I am a principal, I am not going to look at my arts line item in the school budget – I am going to look in my Rolodex.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Parent: CPS longer day will take away from after school activities. Teachers won’t have time to host clubs, other activities.Catalyst Chicago Mag
@CatalystChicago longer school day intended to be a babysitting service that will keep kids off streets from violence. Not learning.Chitown Big Mouth
Mentzinger – activities don’t reach all students. Having a longer day will make sure all students get the same opportunities.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Q. Who funds school resource coordinators?Catalyst Chicago Mag
Mitchell – federal 21st Century Community Learning Center money, combined w. Title I and private funding. Some schls use discretionary $Catalyst Chicago Mag
Mitchell – in some other communities it is district funded. "It really can be kind of a funding jigsaw puzzle"Catalyst Chicago Mag
Next panel is Brad Seigfried, OfficeMax; Michelle Morrison at Youth Guidance; Linda Moore from Burnham Academy.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Office Max adopts local schools. Q. How would you sell this to other businesses?Catalyst Chicago Mag
Seigfried – United Way helped Office Max get its program off the ground and find school volunteering opportunities for its employees.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Seigfried: OfficeMax provides comm schl funding at Freedom Middle Schl in Berwyn. Chose it b/c many kids disengage in middle grades.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Michelle Morrison from Youth Guidance says her org’s community schl work @ Burnham Anthony was driven by social emotional lrning framework.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Morrison – it was tough because the school was 3 separate buildings that had to be driven between, and teachers couldn’t talk to each other.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Morrison: better if community partners aren’t vendors. Work done at Burnham Anthony couldn’t have been done under hourly service model.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Burnham principal Linda Moore – school most recently was 88.6 percent passing state standards, up from 30-odd percent earlier.Catalyst Chicago Mag
But after the dramatic improvement, the school’s community coordinator position is in jeopardy bc funding ran out. Familiar story in CPS…Catalyst Chicago Mag
Moore says before & after school programming was considered part of the school day. Goal was for parents not to think they were opting in.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Moore required teachers to stay an hour after school, were paid the union after school rate.Catalyst Chicago Mag
@CatalystChicago and they deserve it. Teachers are are some of #Chicago’s most charitable people. Time to show respect! #bargain #contractChitown Big Mouth
Moore – with longer day, students will be there until 5:30 pm.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Morrison – at start of revamping afterschool at Anthony, staff and parents observed programs and had conversation about what was good/poor.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Moore says when she came to the schl, she had to get rid of programs that were just play, babysitting, doing homework & then running around.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Moore – when teachers saw the expectations for turning the school around, some left of their own accord.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Moore – students now know the routine, are well adapted. "When new students come in, they have no choice but to settle down."Catalyst Chicago Mag
Moore – what is key is meeting with every family and parent when they enroll, telling them the expectations.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Audience member: the challenge in implementing community schools is that you need a strong leader, stable principal. Schools are too big.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Q. High schools often have 1500, 1800 students. How do you do that with only 1 resource coordinator?Catalyst Chicago Mag
Morrison: It harder in a high school to get the adults to see themselves as collectively responsible for school outcomes.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Morrison – coordinator must be on administrative team, and must always keep an eye on the big picture. Students must have say in activities.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Morrison – high schl youth need opportunities to showcase what they’re learning. Gender specific activities help address student challenges.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Q from retired teacher – she sees a disconnect between community based goals of panelists, vs CPS emphasis on turnarounds.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Morrison: highlighting Burnham Anthony is impt so people understand you don’t have to change student population to improve outcomes.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Morrison – community school model is about using resources efficiently to meet student needs.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Morrison – in turnarounds, community school partnerships can help provide some continuity.Catalyst Chicago Mag
No, they ARE the continuity! RT @CatalystChicago: Morrison – in turnarounds, community school partnerships can help provide some continuity.unfard
Morrison – "this pervasive fault finding is bad for chid development and it’s terrible for the morale of the adults who work at the school"Catalyst Chicago Mag
Moore – still, we need the right people in the schools. All schools need to be places parents would want to send their children.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Q. Can we bring CPS and the city in on the conversation?Catalyst Chicago Mag
Morrison: district & city leadership are on board. But the challenge is around messaging that community school programs are cost effective.Catalyst Chicago Mag
@CatalystChicago See Rest of Story strategy. Youth & volunteers can create media that motivates adult involvement. http://tinyurl.com/TMI-RestOfStoryInternsDaniel Bassill
Morrison – these students at Burnham Anthony, their trajectory has changed forever. These small investments pay off in unimaginable ways.Catalyst Chicago Mag
Morrison – students at New Trier have to climb a little hill. At Burnham Anthony, it’s a mountain. Community schools help level the field.Catalyst Chicago Mag
LOVE the @CatalystChicago convo on Community Schools! They are the best form of #edreform I can think of. More more more, please.unfard
RT @CatalystChicago Mentzinger: Diplomas Now will expand to 2 other #Chicago schools this fall. Earlier @ DN: http://dropoutnation.net/2012/03/05/fixing-educations-broken-windows-the-importance-of-early-warning/ #edreformRiShawn Biddle