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On the heals of President Obama’s State of the Union address in January, where education was a focus, the conversation of community schools has never been more relevant. Yet, as it was noted on the Black Youth Project blog, in a post titled “Community Schools as a Solution to the Educational Dilemma”, the blogger by the name of Jonathan stated that “even though I am encouraged by much of what our President has to say, I am also lead to believe that when it comes to the issue of education, Washington does not have the answer, and never has” (Jonathan). Emphasis is often placed on the shoulders of teachers to change the outlook of education and change the trends of childhood poverty in America. Yet there is an essential piece missing to this view, and many are arguing that the community school model brings about a new way to think about education and poverty as well as the key role that both schools and communities can play together.
Representative Steny Hoyer (U.S. Representative of Maryland’s 5th Congressional District) wrote in an article titled “Eliminating Childhood Poverty in America” in the Huffington Post that “today, nearly one in four children lives at or below the poverty line. For these children, poverty brings with it a host of challenges not easily overcome…we are seeing a parallel between poverty and higher rates of obesity and poor performance in reading and math by the time they reach middle school” (Hoyer). The community school model innovatively addresses the issues that Representative Hoyer mentions by bringing schools and communities together in the conversation. Community schools are able to provide holistic services for students that provide educational, social and health services in a way that neither school nor community could do alone. In Representative’s Hoyer’s state of Maryland, they have twenty five community schools that “provide full-day, full-year early education as well as social services to at-risk children and their families, including day care, health screenings, nutrition counseling, and dental check-ups…[they are breaking] down barriers to integration of services and better coordinate their delivery to reach more families”(Hoyer). The reach that the community school has impacts far beyond the boundaries of the classroom and can positively affect the cycle of poverty.
The effectiveness of collaboration between the school and community is beginning to show its impact across the nation. “We…know that wrap-around services are needed to efficiently produce successful services and that we cannot break cycles of poverty without changing communities and education systems at their foundation. [There needs to be a] systematic approach to education reform. Starting on a macro level by producing policies that support the efforts of bringing together organizations, best practices and educational institutions to support individuals at the micro level”(Jonathan). Community schools are at the fore-front of being able to provide inclusive services that link together many systems of support that impact student academic achievement and work to change the cycle of poverty.