Why Biden should strongly consider the ‘community schools’ model
The community school model presents a path forward for the incoming Biden-Harris administration as U.S. schools grapple with systemic racism and recover from the COVID pandemic, says one union leader.
Community schools, which have partnerships with youth groups, healthcare providers, social services and other community organizations, have fared better during COVID’s disruptions and the shift to online learning, says NEA President Becky Pringle.
“Community schools share the responsibility to make sure kids—especially kids who have the greatest need, who have been marginalized, who have not had resources for decades—get what they need when they need it,” Pringle tells District Administration.
Pringle has met with the Biden-Harris team and says they were receptive to this vision of how to dismantle systemic racism in U.S. education, she says.
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“We’re in a pandemic and the very first thing they need to do is get control of that,” Pringle says. “And they have to do it understanding that our system was never equitable.”
‘This country has the wealth’
Pringle hopes to see new momentum behind the HEROES Act, the massive House-approved COVID relief bill that would provide substantial assistance to schools, including funding for broadband expansion to close the digital divide.
NEA’s path forward
National Education Association released policy playbook for Biden-Harris Administration.
NEA’s Policy Playbook covers policy across 27 subject areas, including COVID relief, anti-racism and loan forgivness.
“Internet access should be just like running water, it should be a common good,” Pringle says.
The new administration also intends to triple Title I funding for underserved schools and students, and also fulfill the federal’s governments commitment to fully funding its share of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
“It’s not a matter of whether this country has the wealth, this country has the wealth,” she says. “The question we have to answer is, ‘Does this country have the will?'”
Expanding teacher voice
Pringle also says she hopes the incoming administration’s Department of Education will provide leadership on developing a more inclusive curriculum.
“We’re talking about the complete history of America that honors and respects our many cultures,” she says. “We have to address the reality that those stories have not been told, or they haven’t been told completely or accurately.”
She also expects the new administration to set a tone of greater respect for teachers as professionals, Pringle says.
That means involving teachers in policy decisions as, even post-COVID, more instruction is delivered online. As education evolves in the coming years, teachers will need sufficient time to collaborate and participate in ongoing professional development, she says.
“We’ve got to steep the work we’re doing in equity, so we can make sure every single school looks like our best public schools,” she says.