SAN DIEGO – Tomorrow, on Tuesday, March 22, the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education will be voting on which schools will be designated as the first five community schools in the district. This is a critical moment for educational transformation of the public education system in San Diego.
Students in the San Diego Unified School District have experiences that lead to different outcomes based on race, class, geography, and gender identity. We believe that through community schools, resources can be used more effectively to address the unique needs of our most impacted students and community members.
The community school designations are the culmination of work that started in 2018 when the San Diego Community Schools Coalition came together to advocate for education equity in SDUSD. As a coalition, we saw the importance of the community schools model in addressing the issues our students, families, and community members have been experiencing. In the summer of 2020, after having researched the effectiveness of community schools, we held community forums to discuss the challenges, opportunities, needs and resources of SDUSD. The San Diego Community Schools Coalition then drafted the Community Schools Resolution and advocated for its adoption. It was unanimously passed on July 28, 2020, by the SDUSD Board of Education. Since then, the San Diego Community Schools Coalition has been collaborating with SDUSD to advance our vision for community schools in the district.
Community schools bring together parents, students, teachers, and community members into the visioning, decision making, and everyday life of the school. This allows schools to use the unique strengths of the neighborhood to address the unique needs of their communities. This vision champions the transformation of SDUSD schools to be hubs of the community that center local assets and priorities by utilizing the four pillars and four proven practices for community schools implementation established by the California State Board of Education. The four community schools pillars consist of:
Integrated student supports that address out-of-school barriers through the coordination of trauma-informed health, mental health, and social services.
Expanded and enriched learning time and opportunities that include academic support, enrichment, and real-world learning opportunities (e.g., internships, project-based learning).
Family and community engagement, which involves actively tapping the expertise and knowledge of family and community members to serve as true partners in supporting and educating students.
Collaborative leadership and practices for educators and administrators that establish a culture of professional learning, collective trust, and shared responsibility for outcomes in a manner that includes students, families, and community members.
“SDEA educators value our strong partnerships with the San Diego Community Schools Coalition and the San Diego Unified School District that have resulted in the designation of the first five community schools serving our district’s students and families with highest needs through expanded academic, physical and mental health supports,” said Kisha Borden, president of the San Diego Education Association, the union representing more than 6,000 certificated educators in the district.
“I work with the Parent-Student-Resident Organization (PSRO), a group of diverse parents and families, and I see the need for the community school model in SDUSD. It is a commitment to prioritizing the voices of students, families, and community partners. This collaborative structure ensures that their needs are represented and addressed,” said Dan Nyamangah, senior community organizer at Social Advocates for Youth San Diego and member of the Community School Advisory Committee.