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Oakland Expands “Community Schools” Model*

Brianna Sacks | June 25, 2013

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community-schoolOakland Unified School District is giving the “smaller is better” approach to public education another go by breaking 12 overflowing schools into 48 smaller ones known as “community schools,” according to a new story from the The Center for Investigative Reporting.

Community Schools offer a more holistic, individualized education by equipping schools with resource centers complete with therapists, counselors, nurses and social workers.

“The idea has been around for a while, but it’s now getting more attention,” said Martin Blank, the director of Coalition for Community Schools in Washington, D.C. Oakland is trying to make all its schools community schools, said Blank, an ambitious move for large districts.

With its notoriously overcrowded classrooms and high concentration of lower-income students, LAUSD could benefit from this idea. The Los Angeles Education Partnership (LAEP) launched the community school model here about five years ago and now has five different partnerships, but there are still only about a dozen or so community schools in Los Angeles, according to LAEP.

At least 50 other school districts nationwide have launched similar programs. Chicago has more than 175 community schools and New York City, the nation’s largest school district, now has 21.

*Correction: The Youth Policy Institute was actually the first organization to launch the community school model in Los Angeles. YPI has nine community schools, bringing the city’s total closer to 20.

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