Impacts of Community & Youth Organizing
on Public School Reform
This research explores community organizing and its impact on school change. Funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, this six-year study examines the work of eight community organizations to improve education outcomes in eight urban school districts.
Our study is guided by two core questions:
Does the effort to equalize power dynamics - the core of the organizing approach - change the nature of accountability and quality of engagement between schools and communities?
Does the new responsiveness and/or collaboration generated by community-based efforts to equalize power dynamics lead to new priorities and capacities within schools and communities that can facilitate successful learning for all children?
To address these questions, we:
Explored the goals and theoretical assumptions structuring each group's organizing approaches and tactics in order to define a logic model for how community organizations aim to stimulate school change;
Constructed an indicators framework, drawing on qualitative and quantitative data, to measure each group's progress towards meeting its short-term, intermediate and long-term outcomes;
Assessed the contexts in which groups operate to identify both barriers to and supports for effective community organizing;
Examined how involvement in community organizing influences the growth and development of members (parents, community residents, youth);
Analyzed the effects of community organizing on school capacity and student success.
The six-year study has involved four years of extensive fieldwork. We are currently in the process of analyzing and disseminating our data, and will release our findings in early 2008.