INVEST IN COMMUNITY SCHOOLS
LAUSD must invest in successful strategies that uplift neighborhood schools. The Community Schools model, with increased parent engagement, broadened curriculum, and wraparound services, is proven to improve student outcomes.
Community Schools Can Change Lives
San Fernando High School (SFHS) is in the heart of the San Fernando Valley. Its deep relationships with Valley organizations make it a critical hub for community services. SFHS boasts a full-service school-based health center operated by the Northeast Valley Health Corporation that provides behavioral health counseling, dental services, immunizations, and reproductive health screening for all students. Project GRAD Los Angeles and Cal State Northridge offer wraparound services for college academic preparedness, college affordability, and the college application process.
SFHS provides a clear example of how strong bonds between school and community benefit students. Its graduation rate surpassed 90.8% in the 2016-17 school year and graduation rates have outpaced districtwide rates since the 2010-2011 school year. The school also outpaces the district, county, and state in terms of the number of students taking the ACT. Students at San Fernando High have also been getting healthier: the rate of 9th graders at Health Risk has declined by nearly 42 percent since the 2010-11 school year.
Just the Facts
San Fernando High School is an example of community schooling in action. Increased investments in public education should go toward funding models of education that help students succeed. One model that has proven to work in Los Angeles and across the nation is Community Schools. In June 2017, the LAUSD School Board passed a resolution by unanimous vote in support of Community Schools.1 A Community School is a public school that leverages resources inside and outside the school to create conditions that ensure equitable opportunities for all children. Designated schools are given support to involve their entire school communities in a bottom-up assessment of assets and needs, and the development of a Community Schools transformation and implementation plan. Although there are variations within districts and regions, high-quality Community Schools incorporate a common approach that includes:2
- A broad, engaging, culturally relevant, and challenging academic curriculum
- Emphasis on high-quality instruction over excessive testing
- Wraparound services (e.g., counseling and clinical care)
- Restorative justice and other positive behavioral discipline practices
- Family and community engagement
- Inclusive school leadership where parents, students, and stakeholders are represented and have decision-making power
LAUSD should follow through on its commitment to Community Schools. It should immediately allocate $5 million to support 20 designated schools in high-need areas as they transform into Community Schools. LAUSD should allocate $10 million in each subsequent year to help other schools transform, and should continually analyze the Community Schools transformation process to scale up the number of Community Schools throughout the district.
1 Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), “Embracing Community School Strategies in the Los Angeles Unified School District.” 13 Jul. 2017
2 Frankl, E., “COMMUNITY SCHOOLS: Transforming Struggling Schools into Thriving Schools.” Center for Popular Democracy (CPD). Coalition for Community Schools. Southern Education Foundation (SEF). Feb. 2016. p.3-4