Thursday, October 22, 2009

Community Organizing for Stronger Schools

In a recent post, But if you teach me to organize, ..., I commented on Ricardo Levins Morales and Reuven Carlyle's encouragement to use community organizing as tools for change. Then, Sally Loughlin recommended an article from the Annenberg Institute "Organized Communities, Stronger Schools: A preview of research findings"  on the value of community organizing for improving student learning outcomes.
Education organizers, researchers, and funders have long debated the impact of community organizing on student educational outcomes. Across multiple data sources, our six-year study found strong and consistent relationships between community organizing and policy and resource decisions, school-level improvements, and student outcomes. Interviews, surveys, and school-level administrative data analyses suggest that organizing helps expand the capacity of urban public schools to support student success by building support for reform alternatives, increasing equity in the distribution of resources, and generating meaningful parent, youth, and community engagement focused on improved student learning.
So, it seems as if we have a win-win opportunity: change and improved learning outcomes. I look forward to reading the new book-length treatment (Oct. 2009) of the issues: Community Organizing for Stronger Schools: Strategies and Successes.
... a richly textured analysis of community organizing for school reform. The authors examine the role of organizing in building social and political capital and improving educational outcomes for students in some of the nation’s most challenged school districts. They delineate the strategic choices and organizational characteristics that foster successful initiatives and consider how community organizing can support increased civic engagement and sustained educational reform. Finally, they discuss the challenges facing this burgeoning field in a new era of American politics.
President Obama has helped us learn where well-developed experience in community organizing can lead.

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