The idea that school is a place where students go from around 8:00 in the morning to around 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon for ten months of the year is becoming old-fashioned. An article by Jane Quinn in the latest Teachers College Record examines community schools and defines them as schools with “extended hours, extended services and extended relationships with community resources.” Community school elements include vibrant afterschool activities, medical and dental clinics, coordinators providing social service referrals, and summer programming. The “common sense” behind community schools is that bringing youth programs traditionally done outside schools into schools creates efficiencies and promotes participation. Quinn’s article is brief, and I highly recommend it as a primer.
In 2008, the U.S. Department of Education appropriated $5 million for community schools through a grants competition. As talk of an “education bailout” accelerates, another $5 million grant competition is an easy green light in my mind. Heck, make it $10 million!