"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, November 23, 2015

Guest post: What could be wrong with a "community school" model?

By Alison McDowell
November 23, 2015

Alison McDowell

Alison McDowell is a Philadelphia public school parent and a member of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools. This article is an expansion of her testimony to the Philadelphia School Reform Commission on November 19, 2015. While it speaks to developments in Philadelphia, it has national implications.

If you read my SRC testimony it paints a troubling picture. Given that my testimony was limited to three minutes, I wanted to add some additional thoughts to the conversation. It’s particularly important to get these ideas out there, because Philadelphia’s mayor elect Jim Kenney and his new Chief Education Officer, Otis Hackney, just took a trip to Cincinnati with the express purpose of learning more about the community school model and how it could work in our city. While Oyler, the school they visited, is lauded for its program, the long term success of the model remains uncertain.

As I see it, two groups are working concurrently on community school initiatives. They hold opposing views about what community schools are. Reformers talk about eliminating the concept of "seat time,” instead they want to promote the idea that you can learn anywhere at any pace.  I see that line of thinking as potentially very dangerous if you’re someone like me who values real bricks and mortar schools as a cornerstone of civil society. At the same time there are an increasing number of people who are involved with community school initiatives on the local level. They see community schools as neighborhood anchors. The problem is that they have absolutely no knowledge that there is another powerful group, the corporate education reformers, including Tom Vander Ark, working to undermine all they are doing.

Click here to read the entire article.

For background on the election of Jim Kenney as mayor, see:

Common Sense in Philadelphia | Defend Public Education

Also see:
City leaders picture full-service schools
Philadelphia Inquirer – November 23, 2015



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