On the Same Page: School-Community Partnerships in Urban Settings
In the era of No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and Waiting for Superman, it is clear that our nation is keenly focused on the academic achievement of students in urban schools. At the same time, the economy is in flux, having been rocked by a recession whose effects have been widespread. Urban schools in every state are struggling to provide a globally-competitive education to their students, and are often attempting to do so with fewer resources than their suburban counterparts. In my work, I have observed schools endeavor to meet students’ needs (both academic and social) by partnering with local community organizations. These partnerships have achieved varying degrees of success, defined as the extent to which their mutually agreed-upon goals were met. This variance in success inspired my own curiosity about what practices each party can engage in to create and maintain a mutually beneficial partnership that ultimately serves the best interests of students. In this paper, I will define the terms used within (such as “urban” and “partnership”), then offer a review of the literature on school-community partnerships in urban settings. I will discuss the reasons why schools and community organizations partner, and note the challenges of such collaborations. I will then proceed to explain the criteria I used for evaluating the practices used within school-community partnerships, and illustrate the best practices that emerged from my review of the literature. I will conclude by describing the implications of my findings, and their impact on my practice as an educator and community partner.