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Critical Issue:
Establishing Collaboratives and Partnerships

Pathways Home

ISSUE: School leaders must create successful home-school partnerships and mobilize parents, community members, and social service agencies to engage in true collaboration on behalf of children and their families (Jehl & Kirst, 1992). This view of school leadership sees the school in the much broader context of the community and asserts that children's life chances are not likely to get better without collective action in many arenas - the schoolhouse, the local health clinic, the neighborhood, the block, the home, and so on (Comer, 1988; Ascher, 1990).

A principal who functions within this broader context possesses the mobilization and advocacy skills of a community organizer, advocating for the school as a provider of child- and family- centered educational and social services (Comer, 1988; Ascher, 1990). The principal provides leadership in forging partnerships with churches, health and human service agencies, and other youth agencies (Nettles, 1991) and sees the school and its principal as leaders in community revitalization.

OVERVIEW: Students who are at risk often receive services and help from a variety of agencies. Frequently, these agencies provide fragmented services with little coordination or communication between them, even though such contact could help improve services for the student. Agencies often do not know what other service providers are doing, what services are already being provided, or what information is already available to help understand a student's needs.

In many schools across the country, leaders are helping develop collaboration between schools and other agencies and partnerships between schools and businesses. Schools are serving as core organizations, collaborating with agencies in the community and providing a central location where multiple agencies can come to meet students' needs.

Several states, counties, and cities are implementing programs in which agencies collaborate in a variety of ways and coordinate their services for at-risk youth. Such collaboration:

GOALS: Collaboratives and partnerships should build upon all of the community's resources in addressing the needs of students and families. They should include parents, health and social service agencies, community organizations, businesses, universities, educational institutions, and so forth. Indeed, involving parents as leaders in the school - as tutors, program coordinators, volunteers, and community liasions - is essential to building a climate of nurturing and engaged learning in the school.

Henry Gradillas' PictureHenry Gradillas, principal of Garfield High School in Los Angeles, California, discusses the role of parents in creating support systems necessary for young people to achieve. Excerpted from a principals' panel presentation at NCREL's Academy for Urban School Leaders in July 1992. (Audio comment, 165k) A text transcript is available.

Partnerships and collaboratives involving parents, businesses, and community agencies can:

To meet the goals of collaboration, social service providers need to be sensitive and responsive to the linguistic and cultural diversity of the clients they serve (Chang, 1993). Historical power relations, along with differing cultural beliefs and practices, can lead to mistrust and misunderstanding between families and social service providers. Organizations must give community members greater input and control, hire staff members at all levels who reflect the diversity of the community, train staff to work with people from diverse backgrounds, and modify ineffective or harmful policies and practices.



DIFFERENT POINTS OF VIEW: Some educators are concerned that the fundamental purpose of schools - student learning - will be lost if schools take on too many functions. Underlying this concern is the belief that it is not the school's responsibility to address students' nonacademic needs. Others are concerned that educators will be expected to take on even more obligations to serve multiple needs of children without added resources or personnel. They believe that these obligations will further strain their capacity to achieve their first obligation - student learning. Still other opponents of integrated services available in the schools do not want medical clinics in schools, fearing that such services will deal with controversial issues such as birth control.


New Beginnings, San Diego, California

Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Centers School-based Clinics, Jackson, Mississippi

School-Based Youth Services Program, New Brunswick, New Jersey

Intermediate School 218, New York, New York

West Philadelphia Schools and the University of Pennsylvania



(For descriptions of all foundations listed below, click here.)

Annie E. Casey Foundation, 701 St. Paul Street, Baltimore, MD 21202, (800) 222-1099 or (410) 547-6600, Contact: Douglas W. Nelson, executive director; Tony Cipollone, associate director; or Lynne White, senior associate.

Agencies and School Districts

(For descriptions of all agencies and school districts listed below, click here.)

Philliber Research Associates, 28 Main Street, Accord, NY 12404, (914) 626-2126, Contact: Dr. Susan Philliber, e-mail:

Chatham-Savannah Youth Futures Authority (serves Savannah, GA), 316 East Bay Street, Savannah, GA 31401, (912) 651-6810, FAX: (912) 651-6814, Contact: Gaye M. Smith, deputy director

Illinois Project Success (serves Illinois), 2-1/2 Capitol, Springfield, IL 62706, (217) 782-1446, FAX: (217) 524-1678, Contact: Lori Williams, Office of the Governor

First Neighborhood Place (serves Louisville, KY), 4401 Rangeland Road, Louisville, KY 40219, (502) 962-3160, FAX: (502) 473-8045, Contact: John D. LeMaster, Jr., M.Ed., Director

New Beginnings (serves San Diego, CA), Unified School District, 4100 Normal Street, Room 2036, San Diego, CA 92103-2682, (619) 293-8371, Contact: Jack Campana, Lifeskills Education program coordinator, e-mail:

New Jersey School Based Youth Services Program (SBYSP), (serves New Jersey), Department of Human Services, CN700, 222 South Warren Street, Trenton, NJ 08625-0700, (609) 292-7901, FAX: (609) 984-7380, Contact: Roberta Knowlton, director

Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families Program (serves New York City), 2770 Broadway, New York, NY 10025, (212) 866-0700, Contact: George Khaldun, e-mail:

School of the Future Project (serves Houston, Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio, Texas), Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, The University of Texas at Austin, P.O. Box 7998, University Station, Austin, TX 78713-7998, (512) 471-5041, FAX: (512) 471-9608, WWW Contact: Wayne H. Holtzman (e-mail: or Scott Keir

Schools Partnership Training Institute (SPTI) (serves San Francisco, CA), c/o California Research Institute, San Francisco State University, 14 Tapia Drive, San Francisco, CA 94132 (415) 338-1762, FAX (415) 338-6121 Contact: Howard Blonsky, director

Resource Organizations and Agencies

(For descriptions of all resource organizations and agencies listed below, click here.)

California Tomorrow, Fort Mason, Building B, San Francisco, CA 94123, (415) 441-7631, e-mail:

Center on Families, Communities, Schools, and Children's Learning of the Institute for Responsive Education, 605 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, (617) 353-3309, FAX: (617) 353-8444, Contact: Scott Thompson, communication and dissemination, e-mail:

Center for the Study of Social Policy, 1250 Eye Street, NW, Suite 503, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 371-1565, FAX: (202) 371-1472, Contact: Sara Watson, e-mail:

ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education, University of Illinois, 805 West Pennsylvania Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801, (800) 583-4135 or (217) 333-1386, Contact: Dianne Rothenberg, associate director. e-mail:
WWW Site:

National Center for Education in the Inner Cities, Temple University Center for Research in Human Development and Education, 9th Floor, Ritter Hall Annex, 13th Street & Cecil B. Moore Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19122, (215) 204-3000, FAX: (215) 204-5130, Contact: Margaret C. Wang, e-mail:

Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL), 1001 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 310, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 822-8405, FAX: (202) 870-4050, Contact: Mary Marshall

Institute for Family Support and Development of MICA (Mid-Iowa Community Action), Inc., 1001 West Ingledue Street, Marshalltown, IA 50158, (515) 752-7162, Contact: Arlene McAtee

National Association of Partners in Education (NAPE), 209 Madison Street, Suite 401, Alexandria, VA 22314, (703) 836-4880, FAX: (703) 836-6941, Contact: Janet Cox

National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), Columbia University School of Public Health, 154 Haven Avenue, New York, NY 10032, (212) 927-8793, FAX: (212) 927-9162, Contact: Carol Oshinsky or Beth Atkins, e-mail:
WWW Site:

North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, 1120 Diehl Road, Suite 200
Naperville, IL 60563-1486, (800) 356-2735 or (630) 649-6500, fax (630) 649-7600


This Critical Issue summary was researched and written by Kent Peterson, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Date posted: 1995
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