Imagine you’re a single mother with two kids. You work two jobs, so you have trouble closely watching your children. Even harder is shepherding them around to all the various places they need to go, from doctors appointments (if you can get one) to extra tutoring to soccer practices. One new policy idea, the “community school”, looks to ease the parenting burden, and it is gaining support on both sides of the aisle. The idea is simple: bring as many child services as possible, both public and private, to the schools children already attend on a regular basis.Though the idea hasn’t been tested as much as many want, schools that have tried it claim it has helped raise the quality of life as well as the academic performance of their students. By freeing up teachers to just teach and tethering students more tightly to the schools they go to, community schools have helped raise scores or proficiency in many places. WSJ:
Teachers and administrators in high-poverty areas say the extra help frees up time for them to focus on academics. “Before I had Sarah [the community-school coordinator], when kids or families needed food, I’m the one online trying to find solutions,” said Mary Lang, principal at North Godwin Elementary School, where 92% of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. “It took time away from my real job.”Ms. Lang, who allots $35,000 of her $3.2 million annual budget to pay for part of the coordinator’s salary, said student attendance and scores have improved since her school started the program. Between 2011 and 2013, fourth-grade math scores jumped to 87% proficiency from 69% proficiency, and reading moved to 92% from 85%. Third-grade reading was the one area that lacked improvement, falling three percentage points to 65% in 2013 […]On a recent afternoon, 43-year-old Maria Gonzalez watched as a dental professional examined her 12-year-old son’s teeth at a clinic in a Grand Rapids elementary and middle school. “This is a relief,” she said. “It’s safer and more secure this way.”
Republican Representative Aaron Schock has joined House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) to put forward a bill directing federal support to these schools: the Full-Service Community Schools Act of 2014. While it may be too soon to put full federal support behind these ideas, streamlining delivery of social services in a single location seems like a good, post-blue idea for students, parents, schools, and communities. We’re eager to see how this program fares.