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PCAPS to launch campaign for community schools

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools will launch its campaign for community schools on Thursday, Nov. 20, at Arch Street United Methodist Church in Center City.

As a member of the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, which is a confederation of parent, youth, and community organizations, PCAPS will host a community meeting at 4 p.m.

Similar events are set to occur in 20 other cities across the country as part of the alliance’s week of action.

“This is a long-term campaign to change the conversation on what kind of schools we need,” said Ron Whitehorne, a PCAPS coordinator. “We see [the community school model] as an alternative vision of how to move schools forward.”

There are no District schools that fit the model of community schools, which can be described as public schools where social services and community resources are brought under the same roof and integrated into the fabric of the school.

The meeting will start with video recordings of actions advocating for public schools created by the Media Mobilizing Project. A panel of student, parent, and community leaders discussing aspects of community school development will follow, featuring Steel Elementary’s school advisory council president Kendra Brooks and representatives of the Philadelphia Student Union.

Demonstrators plan to attend the School Reform Commission meeting, said Whitehorne, where they will call on the SRC to commit federal school turnaround money to the transformation of 10 percent of all District schools into community schools over four years.

“Turning over low-performing public schools to charters has not worked as a strategy for sustained school improvement,” said Whitehorne.