Community-School Model Placed on Thursday House Agenda

A bill to promote the community-school model for turning around struggling campuses has been placed on the Texas House agenda for a possible vote on Thursday, May 11. HB 3861 by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) and Rep. Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) is pretty far down the list of bills eligible for a vote on the last day for House bills to pass on the House floor on second reading. It may not be acted upon by the midnight Thursday deadline. But even if it does not make it as a freestanding bill it could hitch a ride on a related bill by way of a floor amendment.

You can help this good bill to enactment by sending an e-letter from the Texas AFT legislative-action website to your state representative and state senator. Please take a moment to send your letter now.

The text of the letter (which you can modify if you wish) lays out the strong case to be made for this evidence-based, community-driven approach to improving school achievement by addressing students’ needs both in and out of school. Here’ what the letter says:

I urge you to support SB 193 by Sen. Sylvia Garcia of Houston and HB 3861 by Reps. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) and Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston), two bills promoting a proven measure to improve educational outcomes—the community school.

Community schools are developed by parent-teacher-community partners who come together to identify and marshal the services the students at a campus and their families need to support academic success. This model is especially valuable and effective for struggling campuses that must develop a turnaround plan that meets state requirements.

Community schools in Texas have been highly successful. In Austin, Reagan High School and Webb Middle School—both campuses previously targeted for closure for low academic performance—were transformed through the community-school approach. After embracing this model of grass-roots reform, Webb became the top Title I school for academics in Austin ISD, and Reagan—now an “early college” offering more college credit opportunities—more than doubled its graduation rate, from 43 percent to more than 90 percent, while doubling enrollment. Other community-school initiatives under way in Texas include four in El Paso ISD, one in Dallas ISD, 11 in Austin ISD, and five more in Houston.

Here are five ways community schools consistently yield better results for their students:

–They improve attendance by providing coordinated supports for health, transportation, and housing needs.

–They increase learning time through effective behavioral strategies and reduced discipline referrals.

–They increase student engagement through effective tutoring, mentoring, and enrichment activities in and out of school.

–They increase family engagement through adult education, parent training, and community events.

–They support quality teaching by providing coordinated services and partnerships that allow teachers to concentrate on instruction, with fewer worries about nonacademic student needs.

SB 193 and HB 3861 would give a struggling campus more time to meet state requirements if a community-school initiative is developed and implemented. Last session similar bills drew strong bipartisan support, passing in the House and passing unanimously in Senate committee. Please support enhanced teaching and learning by supporting SB 193 and HB 3861.  tutoring, mentoring, and enrichment activities in and out of school.

–They increase family engagement through adult education, parent training, and community events.

–They support quality teaching by providing coordinated services and partnerships that allow teachers to concentrate on instruction, with fewer worries about nonacademic student needs.

SB 193 and HB 3861 would give a struggling campus more time to meet state requirements if a community-school initiative is developed and implemented. Last session similar bills drew strong bipartisan support, passing in the House and passing unanimously in Senate committee. Please support enhanced teaching and learning by supporting SB 193 and HB 3861.

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