Sunday, May 10, 2009

Community Schools Make Sense - and our new Secretary of Education Agrees!

Arne Duncan, our new Secretary of Education, is committed to Community Schools. This is an interview he did with Charlie Rose.

Here's a short clip of that interview:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Why We Need Complementary Learning in Schools

There is an emerging field in education called "Complementary Learning" -- a phrase coined by the Harvard Family Research Project. Leaders in this field are looking at ways to "knit" together all of the non-classroom supports that kids and families need in order to provide students with an environment (school, home, community) that supports their learning. These supports might include parent education, mental health support, medical support, extended learning opportunities (summer learning, after school).

A benefit to taking this holistic approach is that we look at the social/emotional/academic development of the child in the context of their life. We don't just want to graduate students who can read and write, but also graduate great world citizens. Complementary Learning also emphasizes building intentional linkages between parents, the schools, and the community organizations that serve the community.

Another side benefit is that we make more effective use of resources if we avoid "throwing" them at kids in a fragmented fashion.

Today, Oprah did a show on bullying in schools, the kind that is resulting in young kids killing themselves. She is starting a national conversation on this topic. One important point that was made is that we are so focused on testing and performance these days that we have ignored the kind of social/emotional support that kids need to make it through the school day!

With the economic environment we are in, the stresses on the working poor is tremendous. Families need support to make it through hard times.

For all these reasons, it is incumbent upon us to figure out how to "do Complementary Learning" well!