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Bringing Community Organizing into the School Reform Picture

Community organizing is growing in importance as a means of achieving and sustaining urban school reform. The authors identify eight distinct areas in which community organizing groups are connecting community capacity to school improvement. Leadership development and the production of social capital build community power to address issues of failing schools. The broadening of public accountability for school improvement creates the political will to improve schools in low-income neighborhoods. The resulting school improvement strategies enable stronger school/community connections, improved curriculum and instruction, and a positive school climate with the ultimate goal of achieving equity between schools in low-income and higher-income neighborhoods. Using data from case studies of five community organizing groups nationwide and focusing on the story of the Oakland Community Organizations’ small-schools campaign, the authors illustrate how members of low-and moderate-income communities are both demanding change and building the support and capacity for public school improvement.