Community Organizing for Stronger Schools

Community Organizing for Stronger Schools Strategies and Successes

By Kavitha Mediratta, Seema Shah, and Sara McAlister
paper, 240 Pages
Pub. Date: October 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-934742-34-1
Price: $32.00

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Drawing on a six-year national study, Community Organizing for Stronger Schools offers a richly textured analysis of community organizing for school reform. The authors examine the role of organizing in building social and political capital and improving educational outcomes for students in some of the nation’s most challenged school districts.


The authors of Community Organizing for Stronger Schools make a compelling argument that organizing can, and does, strengthen public education. This is the first analysis to document the link between community organizing and improved student educational outcomes. It also identifies effective strategies to mobilize communities, build coalitions, and collaborate with educators. In the end, this book offers a new paradigm for understanding how urban schools and the communities they serve can work together to improve education for the students who need it most. This book is a ‘must-read’ for school reformers and policy makers, indeed, for all who care about educational justice. — Mark Warren and Karen L. Mapp, codirectors, Community Organizing and School Reform research project, Harvard Graduate School of Education

This is a welcome contribution, original and challenging. I don’t believe any previous book has shown so clearly the wide variety of ways organizing can reshape schools. Nor has any book drawn together such an impressive body of data, much of it quantitative and longitudinal, to support claims of organizing’s effectiveness. At a time when much of the national discussion proceeds as if top-down models were the only way to think about reform; this volume offers a much-needed alternative vision. — Charles M. Payne, Frank P. Hixon Professor, School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago

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About the Authors

Kavitha Mediratta, was principal investigator for Brown University’s Annenberg Institute forSchool Reform’s six-year study of the impact of community organizing on public school reform. She has worked extensively with youth and community organizing groups in New York City, and has taught in public and private schools. She was the primary author of several studies by New York University’s Institute for Education and Social Policy, including Constituents of Change, the initial report from this study. She holds an MEd from Teachers College, Columbia University, and is currently a program officer at the New York Community Trust.

Seema Shah, director of the community organizing study, has worked extensively with public schools and nonprofit organizations as an evaluator and researcher. She has a PhD in clinical-community psychology from DePaul University and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Yale University.

Sara McAlister is a research associate at the Annenberg Institute. She taught for four years at a dual-language elementary school in the Bronx and holds an MA in public administration from New York University’s Wagner School.

Table of Contents (PDF)

Introduction (PDF)

Building Parent Leadership Through Community

Funding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program

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City Schools

Edited by Robert Rothman

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A Cord of Three Strands

Soo Hong, foreword by Jean Anyon

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