A new guide released today details how school board members can build partnerships to secure a high-quality education, from early learning to graduation, for students in their districts.
“Partnerships, Not Pushouts: A Guide for School Board Members on Community Partnerships for Student Success,” demonstrates how school boards can work with other community partners to provide seamless services and engage community members to improve their schools.
Every student who leaves high school without a diploma costs the U.S. hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost income over the student’s lifetime. Despite the recent gains in U.S. graduation rates, far too many young people, mainly students of color from educationally and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities, are leaving school without a high school diploma or are severely underprepared for college-level work.
“As advocates for equity and excellence in public education, school boards play a key role to build a student-centered environment that addresses the academic, social and emotional needs of all students in their school district,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, executive director, National School Boards Association (NSBA). “School board members are local leaders who understand the needs of their students, teachers and school staff, and this guide shows how to tap into community resources to further enhance and strengthen their community’s schools.”
NSBA led the effort to develop this guide with a group of school board members from NSBA’s National Black Caucus of School Board Members, National Caucus of American Indian/Alaska Native School Board Members, National Hispanic Caucus of School Board Members, and the Council of Urban Boards of Education.
The guide serves as a blueprint for school board members to build a better-coordinated system of supports for children and their families. By partnering with key stakeholders and local service providers, school boards can ensure that all children benefit from a “Personal Opportunity Plan” that guarantees access to out-of-school resources each child needs to succeed in school and in life.
One such example is the Schools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) Initiative in Oregon, as featured in the guide. This school-community partnership helps create a seamless learning environment. A cohesive collaboration among the school districts, the city, and county, it includes more than 70 schools within the Portland-Multnomah County area. SUN partnered with libraries, parks, local health clinics, churches and businesses, among others, to provide in-school and wraparound support to students and their families. The collaboration is guided by an inter-governmental agreement among all three entities that outlines the processes in which they will work together in creating a shared vision and common goals to support the schools within the initiative.
To release the guide, NSBA partnered with the Alliance for Excellent Education; American Federation of Teachers; Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning; Coalition for Community Schools; National Education Association; Opportunity Action; the National Opportunity to Learn Campaign; and the Rural School and Community Trust.