Dear Commons Community,
The New York Times has an article today on the “community learning center” model that has been adopted by a number of schools in Cincinnati. The model seeks to change years of dysfunction in schools in high-poverty areas by becoming “community learning centers,” replete with dental clinics, mental health therapists and mentors from local banks and churches. The school buildings themselves are also renovated to include new libraries, “over-the-moon” teachers and a host of volunteers.
“As a whole, after years of poor performance and an exodus of middle-class families to the suburbs, Cincinnati has made some of the greatest gains in test scores in Ohio in recent years, even though it lags behind state averages. School officials here credit the city’s embrace of the community-schools model, which is now fully in place in 34 of 55 schools in the system.”
The article goes on to comment:
“Four Democratic candidates for mayor — Bill de Blasio, Christine Quinn, John C. Liu and William C. Thompson Jr. — visited Cincinnati last year at the invitation of the United Federation of Teachers, New York City’s teachers’ union. For years, antipoverty organizations like the Harlem Children’s Zone and the Children’s Aid Society have operated forms of community learning centers at a small number of New York City schools, but some candidates are hoping to extend the idea to hundreds of them.
“It makes so much sense,” Quinn said.
“Endless potential,” de Blasio said.
Last year, the teachers’ union partnered with the City Council and the Partnership for New York City, a coalition of businesses, to test the model at six New York schools. This fall, 10 more will join the endeavor. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has pledged $15 million to help start community schools in the state.
In New York, supporters of the model said that test scores alone should not determine the success of community schools, and that the public also needed to judge them on their effectiveness in improving student health, attendance and parental engagement.”