Educator Expertise Paramount to Success of Community Schools; Stakeholder, Parent & Community Involvement

Transforming local schools to meet the rising needs of students exacerbated during the pandemic and years of inequality

BURLINGAME – Educators are closely watching today’s State Board of Education meeting, when the 11-member board is expected to vote on plans to guide the awarding of nearly $3 billion in state funds for community schools this year.

The California Teachers Association, in a letter written to State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond, praised California’s historic, $2.8 billion investment in community schools, while encouraging a comprehensive framework and rigorous guidance and oversight. Among CTA’s recommendations are the immediate launch of a Statewide Advisory Council to ensure educator, parent, student and community group involvement, ongoing state guidance, sustainable funding and assessments, as well as a framework that stays true to the collaborative leadership model of community schools and includes teacher association sign off of grant applications.

“We believe that California’s historic investment in community schools presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to truly reimagine and transform local public schools to meet the rising needs of our students exacerbated during the pandemic and years of inequality,” said CTA President E. Toby Boyd. “This is a pivotal time for parents, educators and community stakeholders to work together to create learning centers that are racially just and democratic institutions where we can provide the instruction and services our students need most.”

The pandemic has shined a light on students’ needs and the decades-long impact of injustice on our families. Community schools provide not only tremendous opportunities for learning and success for students, but also offer hope, opportunity and transformation to entire communities.

“California’s students are counting on us to get this right. We urge the State Board of Education to put a process in place that meaningfully responds to community needs, engages educators’ expertise, and commits to a shared leadership model that prioritizes student success,” said CTA Vice President David Goldberg, who is leading CTA’s community schools work. “Educators are poised to work together to ensure successful implementation of local programs.”

Community schools are public schools that partner with parents and community organizations to provide support for student success. More than just wraparound services, a community school is both a place and a set of partnerships with community resources with an integrated focus on academics, health and social services, leadership, and community engagement, leading to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities. The community schools model is aimed at addressing students’ unique needs, leveraging community resources, and disrupting poverty and addressing long-standing racial and economic inequities.

Since each community school is centered around local needs and priorities, no two look exactly alike.

While community schools have existed since the turn of the last century and previously in California, the movement to create these centers of transformative change got a boost in 2019 when the United Teachers Los Angeles members included community schools in their demands during their historic strike. They secured funding for 30 community schools and as part of Los Angeles Unified’s Community Schools Initiative.

In addition to state and federal funding, the National Education Association is directing $3 million annually to help schools make the transition to community schools. There are currently 20 CTA locals taking part in the NEA Strategic Campaign on Community Schools to build and strengthen community schools in urban and rural areas as well as large and small communities.

Take a look at current transformations in the October/November 2021 edition of the California Educator, “Building the Heart and Hub.” Learn more about Community Schools here.


The 310,000-member CTA is affiliated with the 3 million-member National Education Association.