OUR NATION faces alarming challenges in the task of
educat ing all of our young people. In seeking solutions,
we often find ourselves divided. Public schools are funda-
mental to our democratic values and must not be isolated
from their communities. This disconnect does not serve
our children well. When addressing public education, we
must act collectively.
Schools now enroll the most diverse group of young
people in our history. Their progress depends on the envi-
ronment in which they live and learn. Too many districts
report stagnant high school graduation rates and unac-
ceptably low performance in math and science. Too many
students are disengaged from learning. Too many young
people are seen as problems rather than as individuals
with assets, hopes, and dreams. As citizens, we are less
involved with our schools and in our democracy. We must
recognize that community issues—poverty, violence, fam-
ily stability, and substance abuse—are school issues.
These issues are realities—not excuses. Without question,
our schools need qualified teachers and strong principals.
Like all public institutions, schools must be accountable
for performance. But, just as surely, our young people and
their families need more connections, more support, more
opportunities, and more learning time to be successful.
We can and we must do both. We must create effective
schools that have robust relationships with families and
other community institutions.
When we are willing to work together, we can improve
education. The education reform and accountability
debate, however, is missing a key ingredient. To achieve
our common goals, we must engage in serious dialogue
about how to harness the shared capacity of our schools
Therefore, we propose The Community Agenda for
America’s Public Schools.
THE COMMUNITY AGENDA
The Community Agenda is built on four core beliefs:
f Communities and schools are fundamentally and
positively interconnected. Engaged communities
build strong schools; effective s