Leadership Message

As our communities and our country face challenges that were unforeseen years ago, leaders across the nation—and indeed across the world—recognize that public education is still the greatest equalizer and also the backbone of democracy. For a growing number of these leaders, community schools represent the strongest possible approach to translating the equity agenda into concrete action on the ground.


Since 2005, the National Center for Community Schools has enjoyed a productive relationship with colleagues at Barnardo’s, a large and multi-faceted human service organization in the United Kingdom. At the suggestion of a major funder, Atlantic Philanthropies, leaders from the Northern Ireland division of Barnardo’s arranged to make a study visit to The Children’s Aid Society community schools in New York City during 2005, and they brought additional Northern Ireland partners during subsequent visits. These several study visits inspired and enabled Barnardo’s to take the lead in implementing a variety of full-service community school activities in Northern Ireland since that time.

During the keynote speech at the Children’s Aid Society’s Community Schools Practicum last Fall, New York University professor and education policy expert Pedro Noguera emphasized the importance of addressing the effects of poverty as a school reform strategy. Noguera stated unequivocally that “Poor students can thrive under the right conditions. Poverty is not a learning disability. But, despite the position advanced by leaders of the No Excuses Movement, the effects of poverty cannot be ignored.

With talk of education reform picking up as we near the Fall elections, it seems worthwhile to look again at results from the implementation of Community Schools across the country. Public discussions about voucher systems, high-stakes testing and teacher evaluations are commonplace these days, but the rationale or evidence behind these ideas are not always so clear cut. The Community Schools strategy, however, is rooted in a very solid base of theoretical and empirical evidence.