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Group rallies for community schools, finds support from Kenney

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

Several dozen parents and community members rallied Monday in Southwest Philadelphia, urging the creation of community schools.

They were joined by Democratic mayoral candidate Jim Kenney, who is calling for the opening of 25 community schools in Philadelphia.

Community schools, which have been adopted in several other cities, become centers for students and their families to get social and sometimes medical services. Schools stay open longer and provide a wealth of afterschool activities.

They also prioritize giving staff and community members decision-making power and focus on maintaining an engaging curriculum and progressive discipline policies.

Proponents point to a record of success for community schools in Cincinnati and other cities, where graduation rates have gone up. Several mayors, including Bill de Blasio in New York and Ras Baraka in Newark, favor them.

The activist group ACTION United, which organized the rally, is working to build political support for community schools as an alternative to closing schools or converting them to charters. The group touts them as a tool for revitalizing neighborhoods

South Philadelphia High is among the schools in the city exploring what it would take to adopt the approach.

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