Some Suggestions for Bringing School into the Community

  • Apprenticeships, internships, and “service learning” programs involve community members by their very nature. Get key people together and brainstorm for ideas and opportunities.
  • Use your city as a classroom. Build academic partnerships or sponsor student projects along with universities, agencies, and nonprofit groups.
  • Sponsor open community forums where prominent educators, business leaders, and management experts talk about what they need schools to be teaching and why. Send written invitations to non-parent groups like the chamber of commerce, the Rotary Club, senior citizens’ groups, preschools, etc. Televise meetings on local cable, so those who can’t attend can watch. Leave plenty of time for questions.
  • Publish a newsletter as often as possible — weekly is best — addressing real educational questions as well as upcoming events. It can be a forum for student ideas and parent input, too. Send it to anyone with any expressed interest in the schools, parent or not.
  • Meet regularly with town or city officials to explore ways school and municipality can work together to better meet the needs of students. Be ready to help with facilities and share maintenance for public projects like recreation and the arts. Or look for ways to offer joint outreach services to young children, seniors, and students.
  • Once students have substantial experience with Essential School challenges (like exhibitions and heterogeneous classes), get them to speak at community forums about the changes. But don’t do this too early — substance convinces not mere theory.
  • Ask the local newspaper to publish a regular column about educational issues. Get someone who writes well to introduce Essential School ideas there, one by one. Use plenty of examples.