Last week I had the opportunity to hear Communities In Schools President Dan Cardinali speak at a conference. His eloquent and intelligent presentation highlighted the work our network does to help 1.3 million students stay in school and graduate.
The occasion for Dan’s speech was the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s celebration of its 41st Annual Legislative Conference. On the agenda were several panel discussions on the issues of greatest concern to the African-American community. Education was one of those issues. Poor math and reading scores, closing the achievement gap and lowering dropout rates were just some of the topics covered.
Dan Cardinali participated in an Education Braintrust panel discussion to contribute to the conversation and present the Communities In Schools integrated students services model as one of the solutions.
The event, entitled Educating the Whole Child, was part of a larger discussion called Ensuring African American Students get the Education They Deserve. Legislative representatives and education advocates from around the country joined nearly 150 in attendance as the discussions centered on closing the achievement gap, and how best to address the education needs of under-served students.
Any discussion on education is bound to be heated, as everyone has an opinion on what needs to be done. While some of the panelists stressed the importance of teachers, unions or parents, most agreed the bottom line is educating our kids and providing them with access to quality education.
Dan’s message focused on how the Communities In Schools integrated student services model results in educational achievement through addressing the needs of the whole child.
Here’s some of what he added to the discussion:
- *What I want to share with you today is the role of community partnerships and just how important they are, in serving all students, but particularly students that come to school with sets of challenges that schools currently are not set up to address.
- *There exists a strategy to be able to support teachers and principals and gives students what they need to be academically successful.
- *We know there is an enormous dropout problem – 7,000 students a day, one every nine seconds, about 1.2 million students a year. That’s like losing the city of Philadelphia, annually.
- *If you are poor and of color, you have a less than 50 percent chance of graduating.
- *We know the way public education is designed right now, it is under serving African American, Latino, Native American and multiracial students.
- * Our model of integrated student services is the use of comprehensive school-wide services and individual interventions that address all of a student’s needs – academic, physical, psychological, social and emotional. This involves schools and communities working together to meet students’ needs.The strategy of integrated student services has been proven to work. Last year we completed a five-year, longitudinal evaluation of our entire network. And we asked, if you are integrating student support services into schools, does it increase student achievement, does it lower dropout rates and does it improve graduation rates? And the answer is yes.
After the presentation, there was great interest in Communities In Schools, as one person in attendance asked Dan how she could get site coordinators into her districts’ schools. I was pleased to see there are people focusing on education issues in the minority community, and bringing together difference voices to come up with solutions.
And I’m glad Communities In Schools had a voice at the table.