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Nonprofit and for-profit partners help Cincinnati transform its failing schools

From Oakland to East Los Angeles, the concept of community schools is starting to gain ground in California. But districts thinking of embracing this “whole child” approach to education might want to look outside the state at a nationally recognized model: Cincinnati Public Schools.

Community schools are based on the idea that the school is the hub of a community – a place where students can get all their needs met, including health and dental care, counseling and after-school programs. The theory behind this approach is that when students’ needs are taken care of – whether it’s a toothache or stress in the family – they can focus on academics.

Some districts have been reluctant to embrace community schools, concerned that the costs might prove overwhelming. But Cincinnati has turned all 55 of its schools into community learning centers by relying on partners to provide the services free of cost to the students and the district in exchange for a space at the school and exclusive access to students.

It took leadership, community buy-in, time and patience, but Cincinnati Public Schools went from one of the worst urban public school systems in Ohio 10 years ago to the best today, according to the state’s ranking system, which is based on state test scores and high school graduation rates.

Read the full story on EdSource California. 

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