The Joint Committee on Public Schools met on Wednesday, April 11 on Community Schools. NJEA Vice President Sean Spiller presented testimony to the committee commending NJEA members for taking the lead in Community School initiatives. Guiding community schools is the recognition that schools should be at the center of our neighborhoods and that educational outcomes are best accomplished when we consider the whole child.
“Based on the testimony given by districts and community organizations about their experiences in the schools, it is clear there is a lot of great work going on around the state with respect to community schools,” stated Spiller. “In fact, NJEA members are involved with all of the examples of success heard in testimony – as classroom teachers and support staff contributes to the collaborative approach which is foundational to community schools.” Spiller was asked to sit on the National Education Association Community School Task Force, where the task force has been finalizing a comprehensive report after an extensive eight months of research and meetings drawing from national data, experience, and experts.
NJEA has the support of the National Education Association’s commitment to community schools. NJEA has sent teams of educators, administrators, and community partners to national NEA trainings to learn best practices and see full community schools in action. Together with NEA, we connect members and community partners to the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, a national network built of community, parents, and union members all working together to support successful initiatives like community schools. NEA has built extensive resources available on line as well as cross-divisional national staff with expertise to support all areas of community schools. And in the next few weeks the NEA Task Force will release its final report that will inform NEA policy to further the support of Community schools.
NJEA looks forward to continuing to work with state and national partners to help grow the community school strategy across New Jersey. “We recognize that the work is slow, and grows from the bottom up starting with the intensive needs assessment that determines what the community school needs to prioritize in each school or district,” Spiller said. “We know that when we work on these six pillars, success can be seen at every stage, leading to dramatic transformations that once again make our schools the heart of our communities.”