Community Schools — and the organizing it will take to build them
Netroots Nation [link] is 10 years old, and over the past decade has become a preeminent gathering point for people at the intersections of progressive politics, social change, and technology. As such, it’s been interesting to watch various aspects of the conference shift — from keynote speakers, to panel topics, to vendors — as the larger progressive movement has shifted.
Nowhere is that more stark than education. Writers like Jeff Bryant point out how for many years, education wasn’t even on the radar of many progressive activists and organizations — and when it was, they would usually gravitate to the well-funded outreach of corporate reform outfits like Students First and Stand for Children.
But the crisis in public education worsened and the broader progressive community began to see the effects of an inherently conservative ideology in practice, often in the hands of otherwise liberal policymakers: mass school closures in low-income, Black, and Latino communities; slashed K-12 funding, hitting poor districts hardest; the shine wearing off the charter school model as scandals piled up; the astonishingly high rate of Black, Latino, LGBT and disabled students being pushed out of their classrooms and into the criminal justice system; and reformers’ insistence on blaming teachers, parents, and students — anyone but themselves.
Recent Netroots conferences have highlighted inequities in school funding, the school-to-prison pipeline, and this year featured a session on the community schools model led by Schott Foundation grantees and partners: “The Real Progressive Solution: How the community schools model supports students and revitalizes entire neighborhoods.”
Community schools across the country are already proving themselves to be better solutions to underserved districts than private charter conversions or undemocratic state takeovers. As moderator Kyle Serrette of the Center for Popular Democracy[link] pointed out, cities are finding out that community schools improve the lives of students, teachers, and Community Schools — and the organizing it will take to build them | Schott Foundation for Public Education: