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Education Community Relations
by
Robert L. Crowson, Corey Bunje Bower

Introduction

Community relations refers to the environmental connections and interactions characterizing and influencing the management of local school districts and individual schools. Major topics of inquiry in the community relations literature include matters of parent involvement and parental choice; the impact of local community values, cultures, and politics upon the schools; the quality and scope of communications between communities and their schools; neighborhood and family influences upon school achievement; the comparative advantages and disadvantages of communities in their capacities to support student learning; and strategies employed by school and district personnel in using community relations effectively toward improved school achievement. A significant and ongoing policy debate accompanies the community relations field of study in public education. Amid this debate, some scholars claim that the schools can improve in quality, whatever the circumstances of their community contexts. Other scholars, however, stress that improving the capacities of communities to support learning and developing close relationships between schools and their communities are indeed necessary for quality improvement—the schools cannot do it alone. The citations included in this entry have been selected with an eye toward informing additional inquiry and the consideration of potential policy directions around this important debate.

General Overviews

A well-balanced introduction to the broad field of community relations begins most informatively with both “classic” and historically informative pieces of the extant literature. To gain an insight into the school-community relationship, it is advisable to go back in time to progressive-era efforts toward freeing the public schools from all “outside” (especially political) influences. Cronin 1973 and LaNoue and Smith 1973 are classic examples of this type of work. In a similar vein, a number of sociological studies of individual towns in the first half of the 20th century examined family-income factors in an unequal distribution of educational opportunities by the public schools. These include the examination of the impacts of the Jim Crow era on a Southern town in Dollard 1937; Havighurst 1962, a study of schooling in a Midwestern farm town; Hollingshead 1949, a story of the youth of the middle American Elmtown; and Peshkin 1978, an examination of the impact of an agricultural community on the local schools. Finally, important contributions to the early literature on school and community relations documented a first effort to open the schools to community involvement through the creation of “community schools” or through school district decentralization. Kaestle 1983 and Tyack 1974 offer histories of the relationships between schools and communities, and Waller 1932 warns against schools catering to the demands of the community.

Textbooks

Instructors have many textbooks on community relations from which to choose. Allen 2007, Fiore 2006, and Gestwicki 2010 offer practical guides for school leaders to follow. Crowson 2003 offers a political/historical examination of the topic. Gallagher, et al. 2004 examines the issues and offers public-relations strategies. And Crowson, et al. 2010 offers a combination of a review of the literature and a guide for applying the lessons learned from this research.

  • Allen, J. 2007. Creating welcoming schools: A practical guide to home-school partnerships with diverse families. New York: Teachers College Press.

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    Practical suggestions for establishing family-school partnerships and engaging in productive communications with diverse families and also involving families actively in classroom learning.

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  • Crowson, R. L. 2003. School-community relations, under reform. 3d ed. Berkeley, CA: McCutchan.

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    A political/historical examination of changing relationships, under reform, between the public schools and their communities, plus the policy/administrative implications of these changes.

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  • Crowson, R. L., E. B. Goldring, and K. T. Haynes. 2010. Successful schools and the community relationship: Concepts and skills to meet twenty-first-century challenges. Richmond, CA: McCutchan.

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    A comprehensive review of the community’s role, and the exercise of leadership in community involvement, toward improving opportunities for student learning.

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  • Fiore, D. J. 2006. School-community relations. 2d ed. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.

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    Administrative suggestions for paying attention to and “reading” the community, communicating effectively in an electronic era, and judging the school’s effectiveness in the community relationship.

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  • Gallagher, D. R., D. Bagin, and E. H. Moore. 2004. The school and community relations. 8th ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

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    An examination of community relations from the perspective of understanding and communicating effectively with the local community and developing strong public-relations strategies.

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  • Gestwicki, C. 2010. Home, school, and community relations. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

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    Methods for developing family partnerships and working with families from diverse backgrounds.

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Data Sets

A wide range of data sets have been used to study school-community relations. Some of the most frequently used are the American Community Survey, which is collected by the US Census Bureau and used to measure neighborhood context; the Social Capital Community Survey, which includes qualitative data describing residents’ views; the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which can be used to track changes in children’s behaviors and living conditions over time; and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, which can be used to study changes in family economic conditions over time.

Journals

There are relatively few academic journals that are devoted entirely to topics of inquiry and matters of professional practice in the school-community relationship. Nearly all of the top journals in education, however, do quite often publish articles that address the community relationship. Most of these journals are published quarterly, and in an examination of the table of contents for each issue, one will frequently find an article of value to an understanding of community relations. The most well-regarded (both refereed and nonrefereed) among these academic journals are Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, which tends to contain quantitative analyses of policies or policy-relevant issues; the American Journal of Education, which is aimed both at academics and practicioners; Teachers College Record, which contains policy analyses and theoretical work in addition to book reviews and commentary pieces; and the American Educational Research Journal, which often contains longer articles heavy in theory but utilizing various methods. As a topic of considerable appeal to practicing educators, the school-community relationship is also very frequently addressed in a directly applicable manner in key professional journals. These include the School Community Journal; Future of Children, which is published annually as a book-length compilation of articles centered around a specific topic; NASSP Bulletin, which contains short pieces aimed at school leaders; and Educational Leadership, which is also geared toward school leaders and contains summaries of recent research and other pieces.

Intergovernmental Relations

The US Constitution includes no mention of education. Public schooling is one of the “reserved” powers under the Tenth Amendment that are left to the individual states. Traditionally, the states have established broad goals and general guidelines for public education but have left much of the direct authority and responsibility for the schools in the hands of local educational authorities. Kirst and Wirt 2009 offers a thorough review of federal-state-local traditions in educational governance. Boyd and Miretzky 2003 and Cooper, et al. 2008 also offer edited volumes with chapters on historical and emerging issues surrounding education policy and politics. However, traditions in intergovernmental relations have been undergoing some far-reaching changes in the early 21st century. Manna 2010 describes how the federal government is exercising a much more directive role than previously in history; the individual states are going well beyond general guidelines into an enforcement of goal-attainment standards statewide, and the localities themselves are struggling to maintain some continuing elements of discretionary control amid an array of centralizing forces. As a consequence, the study of community relations is now a much more complex undertaking than was the case under “old” traditions, providing considerable local autonomy in public schooling. Ravitch 2010 gives readers a glimpse of the changing intergovernmental dynamics surrounding schools and their communities as of the date of its publication, with a focus on current education policy and local and federal levels.

  • Boyd, W. L., and D. Miretzky, eds. 2003. American educational governance on trial: Change and challenges. Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education 102.1. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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    A thorough review of major policy issues surrounding the role of the community in schooling, amid a changing educational governance system in America.

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  • Cooper, B. S., J. G. Cibulka, and L. D. Fusarelli, eds. 2008. Handbook of education politics and policy. New York: Routledge.

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    A collection of chapters analyzing key topics of federal, state, and local politics, plus the special politics of interest-group behavior and a politics of equity and excellence in public education.

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  • Kirst, M. W., and F. M. Wirt. 2009. The political dynamics of American education. 4th ed. Richmond, CA: McCutchan.

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    A comprehensive examination of the complex political web of American education, from federal to state to local.

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  • Manna, P. 2010. Collision course: Federal education policy meets state and local realities. Washington, DC: CQ Press.

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    Examines the administrative challenges of federal policymaking in collision with state and local structures and practices.

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  • Ravitch, D. 2010. The death and life of the great American school system: How testing and choice are undermining education. New York: Basic Books.

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    A highly critical analysis of the local consequences of today’s centralizing reforms and current federal initiatives around choice, testing, and performance incentives.

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Federal

The primary vehicle for federal involvement in the school-community relationship has been the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Passed in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” ESEA gives central attention to the education of disadvantaged children, particularly under Title 1 of the act. Berman and McLaughlin 1978 provides an early examination of the federal government’s role in education a decade after ESEA’s adoption. After the publication of A Nation at Risk in 1983, the 1990s debate over the role of the federal government and ESEA intensified, as chronicled in Committee on the Federal Role in Education Research 1992 and Elmore and Fuhrman 1990. ESEA was reauthorized in 2002 as the No Child Left Behind program of President George W. Bush, placing an emphasis upon high standards and accountability but also continuing a focus upon the educationally disadvantaged. Manna 2006 offers an analysis of these changes and the increasing federal role in education, and Wong 2008 asks if the increased centralization of the provision of education would yield a greater focus on those living in poverty. By the end of 2010, proposals for an additional reauthorization of ESEA under President Barack Obama called for a number of direct initiatives to enhance the school-community relationship. These included (a) a full-service community schools program (designed to encourage the coordination of academic, social, and health services); (b) a Promise Neighborhoods program (designed to improve the educational and developmental outcomes of children in the most distressed of the nation’s communities); and (c) a Family Engagement and Responsibility Fund under Title 1 (to assist school districts in creating and operating programs promoting family engagement and empowerment). Some background reading on the federal role is included here.

  • Berman, P., and M. W. McLaughlin. 1978. Federal programs supporting educational change. Vol. 7, Factors affecting implementation and innovation. Santa Monica, CA: Rand.

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    An early examination of the capacity of the federal government to influence local school district reform and improvement, under ESEA.

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  • Committee on the Federal Role in Education Research. 1992. Research and education reform: Roles for the Office of Education Research and Improvement. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

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    A review of the educational-research agendas and activities of the federal government through the early 1990s.

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  • Elmore, R. F., and S. Fuhrman. 1990. The national interest and the federal role in education. Publius 20.3: 149–162.

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    A discussion of the origins, plus pro-and-con considerations, surrounding an emerging (at the time) pressure politically for an increased federal role in education.

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  • Manna, P. 2006. School’s in: Federalism and the national education agenda. Washington, DC: Georgetown Univ. Press.

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    A political analysis of the federal government’s increasing involvement in education, tracing that involvement back to a widening role of state governments in education and to a few entrepreneurial local school districts.

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  • Wong, K. K. 2008. Federalism, equity, and accountability in education. In Handbook of education politics and policy. Edited by J. G. Cibulka, L. D. Fusarelli, and B. S. Cooper, 19–29. New York: Routledge.

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    An analysis noting that historically, a decentralized system of governance in education paid rather limited attention to the impact of poverty; asks whether a more centralized system with greater federal involvement can be more successful.

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State

A number of states across the nation have provided exemplary leadership in the initiation of efforts to coordinate the distribution of public services to children and families in need. New York inaugurated a Community Schools Program in 1987, and New Jersey began funding projects to link education and human services systems in 1988, chronicled in the New Jersey Department of Human Services 1990. A very influential report of research by Stanford’s Michael Kirst, “The Conditions of Children in California,” led to a flurry of coordinated children’s services projects around the nation, most with state-level and/or foundation support (see Kirst 1989). Council of Chief State School Officers 1989 gives a set of guidelines for states to follow in order to integrate families and schools. This was followed by plans for Arkansas and Colorado in 1990 designed to coordinate children’s and family services, as documented in Office of the Governor (Arkansas) 1990 and Office of the Governor (Colorado) 1990. Kentucky included the provision of Family Resource Centers at the school site, as a significant element of its highly regarded “Kentucky School Reform.” A program called “Joining Forces” received start-up assistance from the Ford Foundation in 1987 and the endorsement of the National State School Boards Association, which led to acceptance of the idea of interagency collaboration by governors in Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky, and Colorado. The Kentucky Family Resource Centers were later analyzed in Smrekar 1996. During the mid- to late 1990s and into the early 21st century, budget considerations slightly slowed the expansion of state programs. However, a number of states continue focused efforts in important domains of assistance. For example, New York’s “Kids Count” program helps counties provide cross-system services to children with disabilities, both Maine and Florida focus upon coordinated school health partnerships, and Vermont operates a coordinated-services approach to helping children affected by domestic violence. Both Crowson and Boyd 1993 and Dryfoos 1994 provide overviews of the movement.

  • Council of Chief State School Officers. 1989. Family support, education and involvement: A guide for state action. Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers.

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    An initial document to guide state education department officials toward family-supportive policymaking as a key element in educational improvement.

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  • Crowson, R. L., and W. L. Boyd. 1993. Coordinated services for children: Designing arks for storms and seas unknown. American Journal of Education 10.12: 140–179.

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    A historical and political overview of the state and local development of the coordinated children’s services movement in America.

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  • Dryfoos, J. 1994. Full-service schools: A revolution in health and social services for children, youth, and families. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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    One of the most influential books of the 1990s in building a state and local case for full-service schooling.

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  • Kirst, M., ed. 1989. Conditions of children in California. Berkeley, CA: Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE).

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    A widely read report documenting the service needs of California’s children and noting the highly fragmented nature of the state’s services network.

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  • New Jersey Department of Human Services. 1990. School based youth services program: Program description. Trenton, NJ: New Jersey Department of Human Services.

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    One of the earliest state efforts to reach from the state level into the school level with coordinated youth services.

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  • Office of the Governor (Arkansas). 1990. Arkansas families first: A proposal for support to design and implement comprehensive community services systems for families and children at risk. Little Rock, AR: Office of the Governor.

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    One of the key early state plans for coordinated children’s and family services.

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  • Office of the Governor (Colorado). 1990. Strategic plan for Colorado’s families and children: A draft for review and comment. Denver, CO: Office of the Governor.

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    Another early state plan of significance in the spread of state-level attention to services coordination.

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  • Smrekar, C. 1996. The Kentucky Family Resource Centers: The challenges of remaking family-school interaction. In Coordination among schools, families and communities. Edited by J. G. Cibulka and W. J. Kritek, 3–25. Albany: State Univ. of New York Press.

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    A probing analysis of the coordinated children’s and family services component of Kentucky School Reform.

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Local

Intergovernmental relations at the local level can be a rich tapestry of initiatives. A rationale behind the recent tendencies of mayors (in many cities) to take an active role (even a “takeover” role) in school reform is that the mayor’s office can often bring the services of parks departments, public libraries, public transportation systems, public housing, and public health departments more fully into a partnership with the schools than if the mayor kept his or her distance. Kirst 2008 makes a case that this type of integration could be key in closing the achievement gap. A second local initiative with increasing appeal has been school and community partnering, involving faith-based organizations, business-sector institutions, community-based organizations such as YMCAs and boys’ and girls’ clubs, and local institutions of higher education. Savage 2002 offers a historical examination of the relationship between schools and community institutions in the segregated South. A third initiative increasingly found among localities is school-based “outreach” into the immediate community, with programs of added services to families, experiential learning opportunities for students, and opportunities for parents and local community residents to play a role in school site-level governance. Smylie, et al. 1994 and Mawhinney and May 2009 offer case studies of schools in Chicago and the District of Columbia, respectively, that offer such outreach programs. Shirley 1997 offers case studies of successful community efforts to improve local schools, while Kerchner and McMurran 2001 offers a case study of a community’s success at using the local school system to drive economic development.

  • Kerchner, C. T., and G. McMurran. 2001. Leadership outside the triangle: The challenges of school administration in highly porous systems. In Community development and school reform. Edited by R. L. Crowson, 43–64. London: Elsevier Science.

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    A case study of one community’s success in using the school system as a key vehicle in the economic development of the larger community.

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  • Kirst, M. 2008. A “Rosetta Stone” for the achievement gap: Integrating outside community services and better teaching could lead to success. Seattle: Univ. of Washington.

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    Makes the case for the active involvement of mayors and other officials of government in integrating city services into the work of the public schools.

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  • Mawhinney, H. B., and J. A. May. 2009. Localism in public charter school accountability for learning. In The new localism in American education. Edited by R. L. Crowson and E. Goldring, 149–203. New York: Teachers College Press.

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    A case study of a charter school in Washington, DC, that offers an “outreach” program to its students centered around experiential learning.

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  • Savage, C. J. 2002. Cultural capital and African American agency: The economic struggle for effective education for African Americans in Franklin, Tennessee, 1896–1967. The Journal of African American History 87:206–233.

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    A historical examination of close relationships between the schools and other community institutions during the segregation era of education in the South.

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  • Shirley, D. 1997. Community organizing for urban school reform. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.

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    Case studies of the successful efforts of community organizers and neighborhood residents to play a significant role in school site-level improvement.

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  • Smylie, M. A., R. L. Crowson, V. Chou, and R. Levin. 1994. The principal and community school connections in Chicago’s radical reform. Educational Administration Quarterly 30.3 (April): 342–364.

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    A case study of one Chicago school’s efforts to reach out to its community and parents with added family services while simultaneously encouraging parents to become more fully involved in the learning and governance activities of the school.

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Policy Issues in School-Community Relations

With its historical tradition of local control, the community relationship in public education has provided the “bottom line” for many of the nation’s most tenacious and contentious governance issues and controversies. Among these are questions of religious expression and the schools, as discussed in Myers and Cibulka 2008, and battles over the selection of appropriate reading materials, as described in a case study from Tennessee in Stankiewicz 1997. The first amendment and due-process rights of students, student equity and equality of opportunity concerns, the discretionary limits of the schools vis-à-vis student discipline, the accommodations of schools to special-needs students, privacy issues, and intradistrict inequalities in resource allocation—all of these points are covered in Orfield and Lee 2005, which also discusses the consequences of segregation across school districts. Many of these issues have been wrapped into landmark decisions by the judiciary, and many of the issues have been the subject of informative case studies of local community relations conflicts and controversies. Alexander and Alexander 2011 and Yudof, et al. 2002 offer case-by-case overviews of these decisions. Gutmann 1995 and Macedo 2000 focus on the impact of these community-based controversies on the ability of schools to educate for citizenship. Iannaccone and Lutz 1970 offers an analysis of the impacts of changing community composition on the way that local schools are governed, and Thomas, et al. 2009 offers an overview of these controversies, designed for practitioners, and how they apply to the management of schools and districts.

  • Alexander, K., and M. D. Alexander. 2011. American public school law. 8th ed. Florence, KY: Cengage Learning.

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    A comprehensive, case-based review of key decisions surrounding the school-community relationship—including liability, search and seizure, student rights, desegregation, issues of students with disabilities, privacy issues, and issues of church and state.

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  • Gutmann, A. 1995. Civic education and social diversity. Ethics 105.3: 551–579.

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    An article examining the contested aims of civic education between liberalism and conservatism, amid conditions of increasing social diversity in America.

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  • Iannaccone, L., and F. W. Lutz. 1970. Politics, power and policy: The governing of local school districts. Columbus, OH: Charles E. Merrill.

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    A classic study and analysis of the impacts of changing community composition and demographic characteristics upon the governance of local schools.

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  • Macedo, S. 2000. Diversity and distrust: Civic education in a multicultural democracy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    Examines the impacts of increasingly diverse communities upon the schools’ capacities to educate for citizenship.

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  • Myers, N. R., and J. G. Cibulka. 2008. Religious faith and policy in public education: A political and historical analysis of the Christian Right in American schooling. In Handbook of education politics and policy. Edited by B. S. Cooper, J. G. Cibulka, and L. D. Fusarelli, 232–245. New York: Routledge.

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    A historical examination of the intersection of faith and politics in the school-community relationship, and the political influence of the Christian Right on K–12 education.

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  • Orfield, G., and C. Lee. 2005. Why segregation matters: Poverty and educational inequality. Cambridge, MA: Civil Rights Project, Harvard Univ.

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    A contemporary examination of local policymaking around school district desegregation and the consequences of inequality.

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  • Stankiewicz, G. M. 1997. The controversial curriculum. In Ethics and politics: Cases and comments. Edited by A. Gutmann and D. F. Thompson, 327–330. Stamford, CT: Thomson Learning.

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    An instructive case study of a textbook selection controversy in Hawkins County, Tennessee, in 1983.

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  • Thomas, S. B., N. B. Cambron-McCabe, and M. McCarthy. 2009. Public school law. 6th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

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    A practitioner-oriented text—discussing landmark community-relations cases and their local contexts, as a guide to local school district personnel.

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  • Yudof, M. G., D. L. Kirp, B. Levin, and R. F. Moran. 2002. Educational policy and the law. 4th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

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    A comprehensive listing and description of key cases from 1860 on, in a legal shaping of public education in America.

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Parent and Community Involvement

Much of the literature on parental involvement in schooling has been centered upon issues in securing parental participation and strategies for encouraging parental and community partnerships with the schools in improving students’ learning. Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler 1997 reviews the literature on why parents become involved in schools, and Sheldon 2002 reports on the role that networks play in the decisions of parents to involve themselves in their child’s school. Parents in some communities are very heavily involved with their schools, while parents in other circumstances can be quite reluctant and hesitant, believing that it is not their role to “intrude” upon the work of professional educators. Delgado-Gaitan 2001 describes the process of obtaining parental involvement and the difficulties of doing so in Latino communities, Chavkin 1993 examines the obstacles surrounding the involvement of minority parents, and Smrekar 1996 finds that access to information is a significant barrier to involvement but that parents who share expectations with teachers are more likely to become involved. While there are many difficulties surrounding parental involvement, research indicates that parental involvement can be an important ingredient in student achievement. Honig, et al. 2001 reviews the literature on the school-community relationship. Andrews 1987 presents two case studies that illustrate the importance of an open relationship between schools and community. Goldring and Sullivan 1996 offers an analysis of the role of principals in securing parental involvement, while Crawford and Levitt 1999 examines the role of the PTA in securing parental involvement.

  • Andrews, R. L. 1987. The school-community interface: Strategies of community involvement. In The ecology of school renewal. Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education 86.1. Edited by J. I. Goodlad, 152–169. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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    A presentation of two case studies illustrating the interdependencies of school systems and their communities and the necessity of “openness” between school and community in order to maintain the legitimacy of the public schools.

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  • Chavkin, N. F. 1993. Families and schools in a pluralistic society. Albany: State Univ. of New York Press.

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    A thorough examination of the importance of (as well as the obstacles surrounding) the schools’ ability to secure parental involvement, particularly among minority parents.

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  • Crawford, S., and P. Levitt. 1999. Social change and civic engagement: The case of the PTA. In Civic engagement in American democracy. Edited by T. Skocpol and M. P. Fiorina, 249–296. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

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    The role of the PTA in parent involvement from a historical perspective alongside late-20th- and early-21st-century changes in family structure, the changing needs of today’s families, and the consequently necessary adaptations of parent organizations to changing families.

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  • Delgado-Gaitan, C. 2001. The power of community: Mobilizing for family and schooling. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

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    An informative book with many illustrative examples and stories surrounding the process of securing parental involvement and parental empowerment in Latino communities.

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  • Hoover-Dempsey, K. V., and H. M. Sandler. 1997. Why do parents become involved in their children’s education? Review of Educational Research 67:3–42.

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    A presentation of a model of parental involvement processes—linking parental perceptions and motivators to differing forms of parental involvement, mechanisms to engage parents, and activities linked to student achievement.

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  • Goldring, E., and A. Sullivan. 1996. Beyond the boundaries: Principals, parents, and communities shaping the school environment. In The International handbook of educational leadership and administration. Edited by K. Leithwood, 195–222. London: Kluwer.

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    Examines the changing leadership roles of school principals and particularly the role of “environmental leadership”—integrating the external (parents and community) with the internal (school) contexts of administration.

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  • Honig, M., J. Kahne, and M. McLaughlin. 2001. School-community connections: Strengthening opportunity to learn and opportunity to teach. In Handbook of research on teaching. 4th ed. Edited by V. Richardson, 998–1028. Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association.

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    One of the first in-depth reviews of the literature on the school-community relationship as a source of strength for the schools in assisting both teaching and learning.

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  • Sheldon, S. B. 2002. Parents’ social networks and beliefs as predictors of parent involvement. The Elementary School Journal 102.4: 302–318.

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    A report of research on parents’ social networks and the role networking plays in parent involvement in education at home and at school.

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  • Smrekar, C. 1996. The impact of school choice and community in the interest of families and schools. Albany: State Univ. of New York Press.

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    A thorough examination of the constraints surrounding efforts to secure parental participation. A finding is that parental access to information about the school and actions to connect teachers’ and parents’ expectations for learning are important forces.

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Community Schools

The idea of a “community school” has roots in the Gary Plan, originally developed by Gary, Indiana, School Superintendent Willard Wirt in 1908, and in long-running financial support of the community school idea by Michigan’s Mott Foundation through much of the 20th century. An active Coalition for Community Schools is at the heart of the movement in the United States, defining the community school as an institution at the very center of community life. The community school ideally is a public school that is extraordinarily open to its neighborhood, collaborating with community groups, sharing facilities, serving as a community center and neighborhood association, and partnering actively with parents as well as local stakeholders generally. The community school is a popular term in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand as well, but the range of types of schools tends to be broader than in the United States, including independent schools, boarding schools, faith-based schools, adult education, and other non-state-funded schools. Blank, et al. 2003 summarizes the evidence that children do better when schools and communities work together, and Clark 1996 postulates that community involvement will only improve schools but also that schools can serve as role models for society. Sanders and Harvey 2002 offers a case study of an urban elementary school and the success it has after involving local businesses and organizations. Vincent 1993 offers an analysis of the politics surrounding these types of experiments. Allen and Martin 1992, Epstein 2001, and Harkavy and Blank 2002 all offer practical guides for increasing community involvement aimed at educators.

  • Allen, G., and I. Martin, eds. 1992. Education and community: The politics of practice. London: Cassell.

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    A collection of practical pieces on the politics of community schooling and advice to professional educators on such topics as dealing with criticism, drawing people into involvement, and working with a community’s power structure, among others.

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  • Blank, M., A. Melaville, and B. Shah. 2003. Making the difference: Research and practice in community schools. Washington, DC: Coalition for Community Schools, Institute for Educational Leadership.

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    Summarizes the evidence that when schools, families, and communities work closely together, children tend to do better in school and enjoy it more.

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  • Clark, D. 1996. Schools as learning communities: Transforming education. London: Cassel.

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    Examines school and community partnerships as vehicles both for improving educational outcomes and positively affecting society at large by serving as a role model for other institutions.

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  • Epstein, J. L. 2001. School, family, and community partnerships: Preparing educators and improving schools. Boulder, CO: Westview.

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    An excellent compendium of practical suggestions for educators in improving schools through the vehicle of community schooling.

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  • Harkavy, I., and M. J. Blank. 2002. Community schools: A vision of learning that goes beyond testing. Education Week 21.31: 38–52.

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    Suggestions for educators in tapping all of the resources and services of their communities in improving opportunities for learning in their schools.

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  • Sanders, M. G., and A. Harvey. 2002. Beyond the school walls: A case study of principal leadership for school-community collaboration. Teachers College Record 104.7: 1345–1368.

    DOI: 10.1111/1467-9620.00206Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A case study of an urban elementary school’s strong connections with community businesses and organizations as factors in improved student learning.

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  • Vincent, C. 1993. Education for the community? British Journal of Educational Studies 41.4: 366–380.

    DOI: 10.1080/00071005.1993.9973973Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the politics of community education and particularly issues of professional versus lay involvement/control in the implementation of community schools.

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Children’s and Family Services Coordination

Reports of the fragmented and inefficiently allocated distribution of services to children and families across much of the United States produced an outpouring of efforts in the early 1990s to coordinate children’s services and to link them more effectively with the work of the schools. Kirst 1989 documents this fragmentation in California. Although this effort has had its ups and downs over the last few decades, a renewal of interest in service coordination in the 21st century has more specifically targeted connections between improved services to children/families (e.g., health, housing, nutrition, daycare, after-school programs, recreation) and improved learning opportunities for children in school. Kagan and Neville 1993 and Crowson, et al. 2011 discuss and examine the history of such services, while Crowson and Boyd 1983 reviews the literature and discusses the difficulties of implementation. Cibulka and Kritek 1996 provides an edited volume analyzing the effects of a wide variety of efforts. Dryfoos 1994 reports on the opportunities for “full-service schools” to provide for many needs of the children attending the school. Halpern 2003 builds a case for the provision of after-school programs for low-income children, while Behrman et al. 1999 provides an edited volume on the effects of a wide variety of after-school programs.

  • Behrman, R. E., Mary B. Larner, Lorraine Zippiroli, eds. 1999. Special Issue: When school is out. The Future of Children 9.2.

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    A compendium of articles on the achievement effects of community-level after-school-care programs, youth development opportunities, and efforts to help minority children on pathways to success.

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  • Cibulka, J. G., and W. J. Kritek, eds. 1996. Coordination among schools, families, and communities: Prospects for educational reform. Albany: State Univ. of New York Press.

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    An evaluative selection of services-coordination studies and reports, from Kentucky school reform to educating the homeless to expanded programming for children.

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  • Crowson, R. L., and W. L. Boyd. 1993. Coordinated services for children: Designing arks for storms and seas unknown. American Journal of Education 10.12: 140–179.

    DOI: 10.1086/444037Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A review of the extant literature on coordinated services, with a particular examination of the many difficulties in implementing a services-coordination program of intervention.

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  • Crowson, R. L., C. E. Smrekar, and J. Bennett. 2011. Education as civic good: Children’s services perspectives. In Shaping education policy: Power and process. Edited by D. Mitchell, R. L. Crowson, and D. Shipps, 238–256. New York: Routledge.

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    A historical review of the children’s services movement and its contemporary place in 21st-century school reform around improved learning opportunities for children.

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  • Dryfoos, J. 1994. Full-service schools: A revolution in health and social services for children, youth, and families. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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    One of the earliest and most influential books on the topic of coordinating children’s and family services.

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  • Halpern, R. 2003. Making play work: The promise of after-school programs for low-income children. New York: Teachers College Press.

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    A thorough discussion of the rationale and need for after-school programs for low-income children.

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  • Kagan, S. L., and P. R. Neville. 1993. Integrating services for children and families: Understanding the past to shape the future. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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    Examines the sociopolitical antecedents of coordinated-services programming plus definitions and characteristics, barriers and incentives, and frameworks for action in an evolving movement in the early 1990s.

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  • Kirst, M., ed. 1989. Conditions of children in California. Berkeley, CA: Policy Analysis for California Education.

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    A major study of the need for improved services for children and families in the state of California, documenting the highly fragmented and inefficient system of services delivery then in place.

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Community Development

Emerging evidence accumulated in the late 20th century that the community environment/ecology and the social/cultural capital lodged in a community are powerful correlates both of children’s individual academic performance and the functioning of local schools. Schwartz 2010 provides one such example, finding that low-income families provided with public housing in higher-income neighborhoods performed significantly better in school. Schorr 1997 provides multiple studies of successful school-community partnerships. Given these findings, a growing interest is to be found in identifying actions that can help to improve a community’s stock of social/cultural capital plus actions that the schools can employ to draw more effectively upon the strengths and capacities of their communities in school improvement. Putnam 2000 argues that social capital is quickly diminishing in the United States, and Warren 2001 examines ways in which social capital can be rebuilt. Chaskin, et al. 2001 discusses “community capacity” as a mixture of social capital, human capital, and organizational resources within a community. Crowson 2001 provides an edited volume with a collection of case studies examining ways in which communities can develop such capacity to support schools. Driscoll and Goldring 2005 and Hill 2005 look at school-led community development and explore the integration of schools and communities.

  • Chaskin, R. J., P. Brown, S. Venkatesh, and A. Vidal. 2001. Building community capacity. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

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    Identifies community capacity as the interactions of human capital, organizational resources, and social capital within a given community. Discusses leadership in the development of capacity and the role of community organizing in capacity development.

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  • Crowson, R. L., ed. 2001. Community development and school reform. Oxford: Elsevier Sciences.

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    A collection of case studies and some theorizing on the development of community-level assets in support of the schools and the role of the public school itself in community development.

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  • Driscoll, M. E., and E. Goldring. 2005. How can school leaders incorporate communities as contexts for student learning. In A new agenda for research in educational leadership. Edited by W. Firestone and C. Riehl, 61–80. New York: Teachers College Press.

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    Discusses how communities can be linked more integrally to the core mission of schools: by teaching and learning and exploring more effectively the school’s use of the social capital of the community in learning.

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  • Hill, L. D. 2005. Mobilizing community resources to reform failing schools. In The social organization of schooling. Edited by L. Y. Hedges and B. Schneider, 301–319. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    A case study of an agenda for change and high-school and community collaboration in an urban setting with limited social and economic resources and many barriers to the mobilization of community leadership.

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  • Putnam, R. D. 2000. Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon and Schuster.

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    A classic and frequently cited argument that the United States is losing much of the social capital (i.e., the sense of togetherness and civic engagement) that has previously helped to strengthen such institutions as the schools.

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  • Schorr, L. B. 1997. Common purpose: Strengthening families and neighborhoods to rebuild America. New York: Anchor.

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    Studies of successful community-level interventions and institutional partnerships to transform entire neighborhoods into positive learning environments.

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  • Schwartz, H. 2010. Housing policy is school policy: A RAND Corporation report. Washington, DC: The Century Foundation.

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    A report of research into a strategy of reform in Montgomery County, Maryland, offering opportunities for low-income families to live in better neighborhoods and attend low-poverty schools.

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  • Warren, M. R. 2001. Dry bones rattling: Community building to revitalize American democracy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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    Addresses the topic of rebuilding social capital through networks of institutional partners, including faith-based organizations and local public schools.

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Community Relations and In-School Learning

This is a literature that examines community engagement in the work of the school and particularly the programmatic ways in which educators can reach out to engage the community, help develop the social capital of the community, foster parental involvement in the learning activities of the school, and build school-community collaboration. A number of case studies of successful community engagement efforts are a central part of this literature. Smylie, et al. 1994 examines a case study of community-school relationships in Chicago, specifically focusing on the influence of principals. Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler 1995 presents a model hypothesizing why parental involvement matters in education. Comer, et al. 1996 describes the School Development Program’s successes in transforming schools by making teachers and parents partners. Stone 1998 offers an analysis of an eleven-city study of school reform and civic capacity, finding that cities with formal institutions tend to sustain reform for longer periods of time. Lareau 2000 examines parental participation in a working-class school and a middle-class school, finding that parents in the former are more likely to defer to the expertise of teachers. Putnam 2001 argues that community characteristics can influence educational performance through the creation of social capital, and Noguera 2001 explores ways in which parental involvement can build social capital and improve local schools. Meanwhile, Warren 2005 argues that neighborhoods must first be revitalized before urban school reform can succeed. Chadwick 2004 offers a practical guide for educators and school leaders to build relationships and engage the community.

  • Chadwick, K. G. 2004. Improving schools through community engagement. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

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    A practical guide for educators to engage the community by identifying and reaching an understanding with community representatives in order to foster cooperation among teachers, parents, and communities.

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  • Comer, J. P., N. Haynes, E. Joyner, and M. Ben-Avie, eds. 1996. Rallying the whole village: The Comer process for reforming education. New York: Teachers College Press.

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    Describes the School Development Program’s design for transforming schools into places where parents and teachers are partners in addressing the psychosocial and developmental needs of children.

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  • Hoover-Dempsey, K. V., and H. M. Sandler. 1995. Parental involvement in children’s education: Why does it make a difference? Teachers College Record 95:310–331.

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    Presents a model that identifies reasons that parents become involved in their children’s education and explains how this involvement influences children.

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  • Lareau, A. 2000. Home advantage: Social class and parental intervention in elementary education. 2d ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

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    Ethnography comparing parenting practices at two California schools: one working class and one middle class. Parents at the former are no less interested in education but tend to defer to teachers and school officials more than parents in the latter, who are convinced that their children will succeed no matter what.

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  • Noguera, P. A. 2001. Transforming urban schools through investments in the social capital of parents. In Social capital and poor communities. Edited by S. Saegert, J. P. Thompson, and M. R. Warren, 189–212. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    Explores ways in which parental involvement can build social capital and allow low-income parents to exert influence over their children’s education and improve local schools.

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  • Putnam, R. D. 2001. Community-based social capital and educational performance. In Making good citizens: Education and civil society. Edited by D. Ravitch and J. P. Viteritti, 58–95. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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    Argues that community characteristics can influence educational performance through the creation of social capital by fostering the effectiveness of schools and other institutions.

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  • Smylie, M. A., R. L. Crowson, V. Chou, and R. Levin. 1994. The principal and community-school connections in Chicago’s radical reform. Educational Administration Quarterly 30.3: 342–364.

    DOI: 10.1177/0013161X94030003007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A case study of coordinated children’s services in Chicago. Examines how principals shape community-school relationships in the context of reforms designed to open schools to community influence.

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  • Stone, C. N. 1998. Civic capacity and urban school reform. In Changing urban education. Edited by C. N. Stone, 250–274. Lawrence: Univ. Press of Kansas.

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    An analysis of an eleven-city study on school reform, focused on the cities’ capacity for civic engagement. While a spirit of cooperation can quickly erode, cities with formal institutions that foster interaction both build and maintain civic capacity more easily than others.

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  • Warren, M. R. 2005. Communities and schools: A new view of urban education reform. Harvard Educational Review 75.2: 133–174.

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    Argues that communities around schools must be revitalized in order for urban school reform to succeed: Warren discusses three different approaches to building school-community collaboration that have demonstrated this potential.

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Neighborhood Context and Child Development

Much of this literature, based heavily in theories of community ecology, explores empirically the relationships among conditions of life in poverty communities, the behaviors of children and adolescents living in high-poverty neighborhoods, and child development. Bronfenbrenner 1979 is the seminal work that birthed this field, theorizing that people’s development is influenced by their immediate surroundings in addition to the relations between the various settings in which they find themselves. With his ecological systems theory as a framework, authors explore various ways in which neighborhood context influences the development of children and, subsequently, their performance in school. Brooks-Gunn, et al. 1993 asks if neighborhoods influence development and concludes that residence in more-affluent neighborhoods is associated with the development of higher IQ scores among other indicators. Brooks-Gunn, et al. 1997 is an edited, two-volume set on neighborhood poverty, which contains numerous explorations of the ways in which child development is influenced by neighborhood context. Another seminal book, Duncan and Brooks-Gunn 1997, presents what is known about the consequences on development of growing up poor. Klebanov, et al. 1998 follows up with an analysis of the effects of neighborhood and family income on early development and finds that both of these effects influence test scores as early as age three. Shonkoff and Phillips 2000 is by a multidisciplinary team of experts presenting the field of knowledge on child development from birth to the first day of kindergarten. Kohen, et al. 2008 produces a structural equation model of the ways in which neighborhood disadvantage influences development.

  • Bronfenbrenner, U. 1979. The ecology of human development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    Introduces ecological systems theory, in which it is postulated that the ecological environment is essentially a set of nested structures (the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem) and that a person’s development is influenced both by what happens in his or her immediate setting and the relations between various settings.

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  • Brooks-Gunn, J., G. J. Duncan, and P. K. Klebanov. 1993. Do neighborhoods influence child and adolescent development? The American Journal of Sociology 99.2: 353–395.

    DOI: 10.1086/230268Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Finds that neighborhood characteristics influence the development of children and adolescents and that children living in neighborhoods with more-affluent residents develop higher IQs and are less susceptible to teenage pregnancy and less likely to drop out of school.

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  • Brooks-Gunn, J., G. J. Duncan, and J. Lawrence Aber. 1997. Neighborhood poverty: Context and consequences for children. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    An edited volume in which researchers from various disciplines discuss analyses of the effects of community and neighborhood context on the development of poor children and adolescents.

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  • Duncan, G. J., and J. Brooks-Gunn. 1997. Consequences of growing up poor. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    Examines the consequences of living in poverty for children and whether these links relate directly to income or other family conditions.

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  • Klebanov, P. K., J. Brooks-Gunn, and C. McCarton. 1998. The contribution of neighborhood and family income to developmental test scores over the first three years of life. Child Development 69.5: 1420–1436.

    DOI: 10.2307/1132275Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Estimates the impact of family and neighborhood income on test scores from ages one to three and finds that neighborhood affluence was associated with higher scores at age three.

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  • Kohen, D., T. Leventhal, and C. N. McIntosh. 2008. Neighborhood disadvantage: Pathways of effects for young children. Child Development 79.1: 156–169.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.01117.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses structural equation modeling to examine social disorganization theory and family stress models. Finds that neighborhood disadvantage affected children’s verbal and behavioral development through lower neighborhood cohesion, maternal depression, family dysfunction, and parenting that was less consistent, less stimulating, and more punitive.

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  • Shonkoff, J. P., and D. A. Phillips 2000. From neurons to neighborhoods: The science of early childhood development. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

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    The product of a multidisciplinary committee, the book covers child development from birth to the first day of kindergarten and synthesizes the latest scientific evidence on how early experiences affect all aspects of development.

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Neighborhood Effects on Student Performance

This field explores the effects of low-income environments upon an array of achievement indicators in school (e.g., child development, dropping out, teenage births, test scores). The literature also empirically explores the effects upon school achievement of altered environments for families, most notably including moves to different neighborhoods and/or housing conditions. Coleman 1988 provides the foundation for much of this work with the author’s theory of social capital, postulating that the relationships between community members are an important influence on many outcomes, particularly academic performance. Jencks and Mayer 1990 provides the seminal work reviewing the theories that link neighborhood poverty and educational achievement. Crane 1991 empirically examines the so-called epidemic model of neighborhood effects, finding that dropping out of school and teenage pregnancy are both associated with neighborhood income level. Garner and Raudenbush 1991 makes use of a new statistical technique, hierarchical linear modeling, to parse out the effects of neighborhoods and schools separately and to find that neighborhood deprivation has an independent negative effect on educational attainment. Harding 2003 makes use of another method, counterfactual models, and again finds that students who move to higher-poverty neighborhoods are more likely to drop out of high school and become pregnant as a teenager. Sampson, et al. 2002 provides an important review of the literature on neighborhood effects and pushes the field toward a more cohesive theoretical framework. A related strand of research looks at moves from high- to low-poverty neighborhoods. Kaufman and Rosenbaum 1992, in an examination of residents who moved after the Gautreaux court case, found huge benefits for those who moved to suburban neighborhoods (e.g., four times less likely to drop out of high school). Largely because of this result, the federal government sponsored the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) experiment in five cities. But Sanbonmatsu, et al. 2006 finds no significant effect on achievement across all five cities, though results vary by subgroup and city, and many implementation challenges may have influenced the results. In an analysis of literature on poverty, neighborhoods, health, family, and schooling, Rothstein 2004 concludes that we must alleviate poverty if we want to close the achievement gap.

  • Coleman, J. S. 1988. Social capital in the creation of human capital. American Journal of Sociology 94:S95–S120.

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    With the intent of combining sociological and economic theories of social action and adding to the concepts of financial, physical, and human capital, Coleman introduces the theory of social capital, which he defines as something that “comes about through changes in relations that facilitate action” (p. 100).

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  • Crane, J. 1991. The epidemic theory of ghettos and neighborhood effects on dropping out and teenage childbearing. American Journal of Sociology 96.5: 1226–1259.

    DOI: 10.1086/229654Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that ghettos are neighborhoods that have experienced epidemics of social problems and that social problems spread like epidemics. Findings indicate that adolescents in the poorest neighborhoods are more likely to drop out or bear children as teenagers, even after controlling for individual characteristics.

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  • Garner, C. L., and S. W. Raudenbush. 1991. Neighborhood effects on educational attainment: A multilevel analysis. Sociology of Education 64.4: 251–262.

    DOI: 10.2307/2112706Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses hierarchical linear modeling to test for neighborhood effects and finds that neighborhood deprivation is negatively associated with educational attainment.

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  • Harding, D. J. 2003. Counterfactual models of neighborhood effects: The effect of neighborhood poverty on dropping out and teenage pregnancy. The American Journal of Sociology 109.3: 676–719.

    DOI: 10.1086/379217Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines two groups of children who are identical at age ten on observed factors and finds that those who subsequently live in high-poverty neighborhoods are more likely to drop out of high school or experience teenage pregnancy than those who live in low-poverty neighborhoods.

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  • Jencks, C., and S. E. Mayer. 1990. The social consequences of growing up in a poor neighborhood: Inner-city poverty in the United States. Committee on National Urban Policy and National Research Council. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

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    Divides theories linking neighborhoods and child development into three groups: epidemic models, collective socialization models, and institutional models.

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  • Kaufman, J. E., and J. E. Rosenbaum. 1992. The education and employment of low-income black youth in white suburbs. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 14.3: 229–240.

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    Analyzes families who stayed in Chicago versus those who moved to Chicago after the Gautreaux decision. Finds that children of families who moved to the suburbs were four times less likely to drop out of school, twice as likely to enroll in college, and seven times as likely to enroll in a four-year college.

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  • Rothstein, R. 2004. Class and schools. Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute.

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    Argues that we must alleviate poverty in order to close the achievement gap, both by improving schools and undertaking social and economic reform.

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  • Sampson, R. J., J. D. Morenoff, and T. Gannon Rowley. 2002. Assessing ‘neighborhood effects’: Social processes and new directions in research. Annual Review of Sociology 28:443–478.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.28.110601.141114Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Reviews the literature on neighborhood effects and concludes that neighborhood ties, social control, mutual trust, institutional resources, disorder, and routine activity patterns underlie many of the findings.

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  • Sanbonmatsu, L., J. R. Kling, and G. J. Duncan. 2006. Neighborhoods and academic achievement: Results from the Moving to Opportunity experiment. Journal of Human Resources XLI.4: 649–691.

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    Assesses the “Moving to Opportunity” experiment, in which some low-income families were given vouchers to move to low-poverty neighborhoods. Finds no statistically significant effects on academic achievement across all five cities, though Baltimore and African American students’ reading scores were exceptions. Also discusses the low uptake of vouchers and high return rate of movers as being significant issues within the experiment.

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LAST MODIFIED: 12/15/2011

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199756810-0007

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