Saturday, August 1, 2015

MNPS is Finally Implementing Full Service Community Schools!

This morning I attended a meeting on full service community schools organized by a group in MNPS called Community Achieves.  I have heard of them prior to the meeting but I was not familiar with the function of this group.  So many new programs have come and gone since I began keeping up with MNPS, researching this was not on my agenda.

I almost missed learning about Community Achieves at this meeting and that would have been a shame! This program is everything I have been asking for since I began researching poverty affects on scores and wrote this article  It is still my most popular post with almost 11.000 hits and visitors from around the world.  If you haven't read it yet go ahead and pop over and give it a look.  Don't worry, we'll wait.

The Community Achieves program is based on the research and work of Dr. Bob Kronick.  He developed full service community schools program at the University of Tennessee.. He began his work at the Brushy Mountain State Prison. It was a maximum security institution. His greatest take away from his work there was he knew he did not want children to end up in this prison.  So he began his life work on breaking the prison pipeline.

Kronick states, "There is a systematic destruction when you lose black men to the prison system." This loss destroys families and communities.  This loss is a direct result of the effects of generational poverty.  The main focus of his program is to keep people out of prison.

Dr Bob Kronick then said, "American loves victim blaming." But victim blaming is not addressing the issues.  We need to switch to systems thinking.  Poverty does not happen in a vacuum. There is an entire system that creates the issues around poverty and it's effects.  We will have to treat the whole system.  

He told us system thinking is difficult.  It requires collaboration and listening to the people in the community. Boiler plate does not work in these situations.  Every community is different and each program is tailored to the needs of the community.

In order to gain funding for any program you have to show the program is effective.  This program is the single most effective program I have ever seen for improving scores and outcomes for children in poverty. I was most impressed by his data on behavior referrals.  Behavior referrals are zero! That is unheard of in this population.  This behavioral change creates teachable moments in the school day which helps to fuel the students success.  Truancy rates are down. Math scores are up. Spanish boys are top in math but reading scores were down.

Why were reading scores low? "Because the test is on computers and none of our students had computers."  That changed. The students were given computers and then the scores began to go up.

He recognizes Human Services are fractured and difficult to figure out. It(Human Services) is a system and you have to figure out how to enter the system.

 They help families get into the system so they can get the help they need.  They also bring laundry facilities, counseling, GED programs, what ever is needed is provided in after school programs at Pond Gap School.

Why should these services be provided in schools? "You want to deliver services at schools because that is where the families are."

The program in Knox County has become so effective Pond Gap has become a destination school with families moving into the district.  These families are getting out of poverty at Pond Gap but are choosing to stay in this community.

If you would like to read more about his work, I found his book on Amazon:. Just click this blue link and it should open in another window for you :

Because of Dr Kronick's heroic work these families and this community are forever changed.  I am so excited we are bringing a program like this to MNPS. Over the next few weeks I will tell you more about Community Achieves run by Dr Tony Majors and we will talk about Jill Speering's trip to visit Pond Gap.

I want to say a special thanks to Jill Speering, Shelley Baldwin, Amy Frogge and  Dr Tony Majors who have all fought valiantly for our schools to address poverty . Special thanks also to Bill Freeman.  Bill Freeman is running for Mayor and plans to expand full service schools programs to see that all children in poverty in MNPS have ways to get out.  Bill I hope you win your race.

Tune in next week for the next blog in the series on addressing the poverty gap.  So proud of all of our change bringers!

Some of our change bringers pictured from left to right: Amy Frogge, Dr Tony Majors, Bill Freeman, Dr Bob Kronick, and Jill Speering.

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