Why Community Schools Are The Key To Our Future

“John H. Reagan High School is located in northeast Austin. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Reagan’s student body became increasingly poor as middle-class families left the area. In 2003, a student was stabbed to death by her former boyfriend in a school hallway. The incident made headlines and scared away neighborhood families. Students left Reagan in droves. Enrollment dropped from more than 2,000 students to a new low of 600, and the graduation rate hovered just below 50 percent. In 2008, the district threatened to close Reagan.

In reaction, a committee of parents, teachers, and students, brought together by Austin Voices for Education and Youth, formulated a plan to turn Reagan into a community school. The district accepted their plan.

Today, five years after adopting the community school strategy, Reagan isgraduating 85 percent of its students, enrollment has more than doubled, and a new early college program has made it possible for Reagan’s students to earn two years of college credits from a nearby community college while still attending high school.

Reagan High School, or any community school for that matter, doesn’t immediately look different than any other school — that is, until you spend some time there.”

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What do you  think? Can community schools improve the future of education and the lives of students?

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