have too much on their plates. How is the society around them responding and
Community organizations and other members of a
school's "neighbors" are helping on local, state, regional and national levels.
Every dollar they devote, and every volunteer hour they provide, saves taxpayer
dollars and improves quality for kids:
Parents. The Parent-Teacher
Organizations (PTO) and Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA), along with many
other school-based volunteer groups, are recruiting and developing more
nontraditional school volunteers, including fathers, single parents, retirees,
and older students.
Businesses. From partnerships with
schools that help with fund-raising for those learning extras that mean so
much, to providing matches for job shadowing and internship opportunities,
businesses are there for kids, whether they make money on the K-12 school
system or not.
Civic Groups. Sponsoring health drives, promoting
educational think tanks, researching cost-effective educational practices,
exposing waste and fraud, granting scholarships, distributing free books, giving
free dictionaries . . . a wide range of volunteer organizations are pitching
Foundations. Previously limited to
charitable works outside of governmental functions such as schooling, private,
nonprofit charitable foundations are playing a huge role in public and private
schools today. That includes paying a lot of the up-front costs for big and
expensive new programs such as preschools, in-school clinics, and after-school
enrichment. Those are often controversial, and so school boards can shift the
pricetag and the pressure off themselves and onto the foundation.
laboratory schools to try out new program ideas in an academic setting, and
post research and opinion on free online forums to educate the public about key
Media. TV, radio and print media
do a great job publicizing the need for back-to-school supplies, backpacks of
weekend food, warm winter coats, and other needs that many children have.
There's a growing number of effective partnerships between schools, civic organizations,
nonprofits, church groups, businesses, health-care groups, other governmental
agencies, and consultants working as a team to bring schools in disadvantaged
areas up to speed.
Among other organizations, the Rural School and Community Trust (www.ruraledu.org) is an example of national
nonprofit organizations dedicated to providing training, ideas and help to
schools in small towns and rural areas.
Homework: An excellent how-to book describing how to build effective
school-community partnerships is School,
Family, and Community Partnerships: Your Handbook for Action, by Joyce L.
Epstein and Associates (Corwin Press, 2009).