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Strong Neighborhoods, Strong Schools: Successful Community Organizing for School Reform

This report, the overview document for the report series ‘Strong Neighborhoods, Strong Schools,’ presents a process for documenting the contributions of community organizing to improving schools through an Indicators Framework for Education Organizing. The Indicators Framework identifies eight interrelated indicator areas that can be used to describe the work of education organizing and its accomplishments. The Framework is based on nineteen telephone interviews and five case studies of community organizing groups across the country working for school improvement, along with a review of relevant literature. The report also presents a theory of change, based on analysis of selected education organizing campaigns from the case study groups, which links accomplishments in the indicator areas to school improvement. According to the theory of change: 1) positive change in three areas – leadership development, community power, and social capital-contributes to building community capacity; 2) increased community capacity leads to public accountability, through which educators, parents and community members, public officials, the private sectors, and others make public commitments to which they can be held; and 3) increases in public accountability create the political will to produce advances in those indicator areas – equity, school/community connections, school climate, and curriculum and instruction – which have been found to be directly associated with improving schools and student achievement. Subsequent chapters of the report discuss variations in education organizing strategies and goals across different settings, explain the unique contributions of community organizing to school reform, and offer recommendations of ways in which educators and funders can support the work of education organizing.