I received the Winter 2007 newsletter from the UCLA Center for Mental Health In Schools. The feature article is an open letter titled To the Mayor. The first three paragraphs are
If you really want to help close the achievement gap and reduce dropout rates, you will have to directly zero-in on matters that are keeping too many students from connecting effectively with good instruction.
Good instruction, of course, is essential! It's a truism that schools continuously need to improve the quality of teaching. And, a logical role for you in this is to contribute to efforts to enhance the recruitment, preparation, ongoing capacity building, and retention of good teachers.
But, as you know, better instruction alone cannot ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to succeed at school. Indeed, focusing mainly on improving instruction is a recipe for maintaining a very unsatisfactory status quo for too many students in urban schools and in poor rural areas. So, focusing on instruction is not where you can make your greatest contribution.
I encourage you to read the full article and use it to write a letter to your own mayor.
Howard Adelman, Co-Director for the UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools, submited an article on on Learning Supports. I encourage you to read it.
In order to change public policy on learning supports, and increase support for non school tutor/mentor programs, collaborations that include schools, community, business, hospitals and universities need to form. Howard sent me an email with these recommendations on collaboration building:
We emphasize is that it is essential (a) for schools to get their act together in order to work productively with the community and (b) for communities not just to see schools as venues but to approach schools with a view to braiding resources -- especially human and social capital. (We have written extensively on this - For example, see our recent paper: Adelman, H. S. & Taylor, L (2006). School and Community Collaboration to Promote a Safe Learning Environment. In State Education Standard, National Association of State Boards of Education. Vol. 7 (1), pp.38-43. http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/publications/school&communitycollaboration.pdf For more on our approach to school-community collaboration, see our School-Community Partnerships: A Guide - http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/pdfdocs/guides/schoolcomm.pdf Also see our Online Clearinghouse Quick Find on this topic for a list of the many resources we have been generating to promote more effective school-community collaborations - http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/qf/p1201_01.htm Also, if you look at our discussion of an Enabling or Learning Supports Component, you will see key elements focus on community outreach to enhance business involvement and volunteers and on home involvement and all the matters with which you are so appropriately concerned. (See for example, the self-study surveys that are one facet of mapping resources. Online at http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/pdfdocs/Surveys/Set1.pdf )
Note: The T/MC invites others to add their own information about ways communities are building partnerships to provide learning supports in all high poverty neighborhoods of big cities and rural areas.