Since the publication of A Nation at Risk fifteen years ago, more and more communities are acting upon their concerns about public education. It takes a broad group of professionals, agencies, businesses, and families working together to change our educational system so children can succeed.
Public or community engagement in education has many facets and characteristics (Annenberg, 1998; Zetlin, 1998; Wang, Haertel, & Walberg, 1998). Knowing the community resources, key contacts, and profile of students and families contributes to identifying the community assets and collaborative "next steps" in planning for school-community engagement to improve student achievement (Comer, Ben-Avie, Haynes, & Joyner, 1999; Samuels, Ahsan, & Garcia, 1995).
The popular proverb, "it takes a village to raise a child" brings to mind the myriad issues about school and community relationships. How to restructure school reform initiatives so that the community understands the importance and value of its role as a partner remains a subject of great debate (Annenberg, 1998/99; Boyd, 1998; Smrekar & Mawhinney, 1999). In addition to understanding and planning how students spend time outside the school day (The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, 1999; Hatch, 1998; Clark, 1990), communities are bringing community resources inside the school, so that children are ready to learn and their families receive the services needed to support their children's learning (Dryfoos, 1994).
The quality of schools directly impacts the economic health of a community. It becomes increasingly evident that, when employers facilitate the involvement of working parents and employees in schools, all participants benefit (Partnership for Family Involvement in Education, 1999; Thompson, 1995). When students connect learning to the world of work, such as service learning, students learn about good citizenship and participate in hands-on, problem-solving applications of curriculum (Kinsley, 1995; The Center for Human Resources, 1999).
According to Sanders (2000), "As William Yeats said, 'Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.' Fulfilling community-service requirements fills our students' pails. Service Learning can ignite their fires." Education Commission of the States founded Compact for Learning and Citizenship and is committed to linking school-based services and service learning to the K-12 curriculum. For more information, see http://www.ccsso.org.
Annenberg Institute for School Reform. (1998/99, Winter). Public confidence in public education. Public Engagement Today (On-line), (1). Retrieved from the World Wide Web: October 13, 2000: http://www.aisr.brown.edu/publications/PE/news1p1.html
Annenberg Institute for School Reform. (1998). Reasons for hope, voices for change: A report of the Annenberg Institute on public engagement for public education. Providence, RI: Author.
Boyd, W.L. (1998). Competing models of schools and communities: The struggle to reframe and reinvent their relationship (On-line). Philadelphia, PA: Temple University, Mid-Atlantic Laboratory for Student Success. Retrieved from the World Wide Web: March 30, 2000: http://www.temple.edu/LSS/pub98-23.htm
Center for Human Resources. (1999, July). Summary report: National evaluation of learn and serve America. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University.
Clark, R.M. (1990, Spring). Why disadvantaged students succeed: What happens outside of school is critical. Public Welfare, 17-23.
Comer, J.P., Ben-Avie, M., Haynes, N.M., & Joyner, E.T. (1999). Child by child: The Comer process for change in education. New York: Teachers College Press.
David and Lucile Packard Foundation. (1999, Fall). When school is out. The future of children, 9(2), 2-7. Also available on-line: http://www.futureofchildren.org
Dryfoos, J.G. (1994). Full-service schools: A revolution in health and social services for children, youth and families. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Hatch, T. (1998, May). Why community involvement leads to student achievement. Educational Leadership, 55(8) 16-19.
Kinsley, C.W., & McPherson, K. (1995). Enriching the curriculum through service learning (On-line). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum. Retrieved from the World Wide Web on October 13, 2000: http://www.ascd.org/readingroom/books/kinsley95book.html
Partnership for Family Involvement in Education. (1999). Employers, families and education. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.
Samuels, B., Ahsan, N., & Garcia, J. (1995). Know your community: A step-by-step guide to community needs and resources assessment. Chicago, IL: Family Resource Coalition.
Sanders, T. (2000, June). Service-learning unites classes, community -- USA Today opinion (On-line). Retrieved November 11, 2000 from the World Wide Web: http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/16/96/1696.htm
Smrekar, C.E., & Mawhinney, H.B. (1999). Integrated services: Challenges in linking schools, families, and communities. In J. Murphy & K.S. Louis (Eds.), Handbook of research on educational administration (2nd Ed., pp. 443-461). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Thompson, S. (1995, May). The community as classroom: Connecting with the community and the world of work. Educational Leadership (On-line), 52(8). Retrieved from the World Wide Web: October 13, 2000: http://www.ascd.org/readingroom/edlead/9505/thompson.html
Wang, M.C., Haertel, G.D., & Walberg, H.J. (1998). Effective features of collaborative, school-linked services for children in elementary schools: What do we know from research and practice? (On-line) . Philadelphia, PA: Temple University, Mid-Atlantic Laboratory for Student Success. Retrieved from the World Wide Web: March 30, 2000: http://www.temple.edu/LSS/pub98-2.htm
Zetlin, A.G. (1998). Lessons learned about integrating services (On-line). Philadelphia, PA: Temple University, Mid-Atlantic Laboratory for Student Success. Retrieved from the World Wide Web: March 30, 2000: http://www.temple.edu/LSS/pub98-4.htm