Why Community Schools and Community Health Providers Must Unite
For the last two decades or so, education policy-makers have been like the drunk who looked for his lost keys not where he dropped them, but under the street light – because that’s where the light was better. Ignoring a large body of cognitive and social science, reformers “deputized” teachers as the agents for reversing the effects of poverty, segregation, and discrimination. They sought cheaper and easier answers for overcoming the educational effects of generational poverty and trauma within the four walls of the classroom.
School was a well-lit shortcut which was supposed to avoid the hidden complexities of holistic and evidence-based school policy. It was also a backlash against progressivism which was derided as soft-hearted “support-driven” rather than a hardnosed “output-driven” approach to school improvement.
The much more respected and well-funded medical sector was guilty of similar oversimplification, however. Dramatically better health outcomes were not likely to be found in brightly lighted doctors’ offices, hospital beds or emergency rooms. To greatly improve health and longevity, answers must be sought in family households and communities, not just in hands of technology-wielding physicians in expensive health care complexes.
Public education has never been granted the respect or the funding of the medical sector, so it lacked the power to argue that teaching and learning must be a holistic, team effort. In the schools with the most intense concentrations of kids who come from neighborhoods lacking social capital and trust, and who have survived extreme trauma, we must invest in full-service community schools. Intimidated educators haven’t dared push for community schools because such policies have long been lambasted as “blaming the victim” or shifting the responsibility for low student performance to families. However, a new generation of Oklahoma medical researchers and practitioners are pushing community medicine.
In three amazing conferences this fall, the Potts Family Foundation’s Oklahoma Early Childhood Coalition Conference, the Oklahoma Kids Count Conference, and the Tenth Annual Early Childhood Leadership Institute in Tulsa, state-of-the-art cognitive and medical science was explained in depth. Evidence-based policies were Why Community Schools and Community Health Providers Must Unite | The Huffington Post - Linkis.com: