In "Community Schools: Reform's Lesser Known Frontier" written by Sarah Fine in the Feb. 1, 2010, issue of Education Week, the concept of community schools, or "extended schools" as they are called in Britain, is discussed at length. Here's a portion:

"Britain has long been a leader when it comes to expanding the function and the vision of its schools. Under the leadership of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, the country began opening 'extended schools'—facilities that have long hours and house programs ranging from health services to business-management classes. The project has produced remarkable results. 'Student performance at every level is up, and some of the schools that were some of the worst performers have been turned round,' Mr. Blair said recently. By the beginning of this year, all British government-run schools were required to qualify as extended schools.

In the United States, however, this model has been much slower to catch on. During his tenure as the chief executive officer of the Chicago public schools, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan transformed 150 schools into community schools, and saw achievement levels and graduation rates jump—prompting him to later reflect that the project was 'the best money I spent.' Other experiments with school-community partnerships have seen similar success. Nevertheless, community schools account for only about 5,000 of the nearly 100,000 public schools nationwide. Why?

The movement for community schools lacks two of the usual suspects in successful undertakings: money and momentum. Martin J. Blank, the director of the Coalition for Community Schools, estimates that a total of $100,000 is needed to facilitate and sustain a single school’s transformation into a community school. This sum is small potatoes when it comes to federal funding, but as of last fall, the government had financed only 10 community school programs, leaving 400 grant applicants in the cold."


Do you believe your students and their families would find results similar to those found in Britain if our schools became community schools? What are the pros and cons?