The Way We Do School

The Way We Do School The Making of Oakland’s Full-Service Community School District

Milbrey McLaughlin, Kendra Fehrer, and Jacob Leos-Urbel
paper, 272 Pages
Pub. Date: May 2020
ISBN-13: 978-1-68253-484-7
Price: $34.00

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Pub. Date: May 2020
ISBN-13: 978-1-68253-487-8

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The Way We Do School: The Making of Oakland’s Full-Service Community School District offers an in-depth profile of the nation’s most ambitious community school initiative. The book focuses on a nearly ten-year effort to transform all eighty-six district schools in Oakland, California into community schools in order to better meet the academic and personal needs of all students.


The Way We Do School offers a hopeful story about education reform—one in which leadership and vision meet need and opportunity. The authors carefully document how the Oakland Unified School District effected true systemic change through the full-service community schools strategy and, in the process, provide a detailed blueprint for other cities and districts. — Jane Quinn, former director, Children's Aid National Center for Community Schools

A rare look into a sustained 10-year districtwide reform, The Way We Do School is a rich and practical story of collective problem solving. As the community schools movement gains momentum across the country, Oakland's experience implementing a whole-child approach to education is both instructive and timely. — Karen Hunter Quartz, director, UCLA Center for Community Schooling

This insightful book offers guidance to leaders and advocates who see community schools as vital to helping students learn and thrive and for sustaining the role of community in our public schools. — Martin Blank, founding director, Coalition for Community Schools, former president, Institute for Educational Leadership

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About the Authors

Milbrey McLaughlin is the David Jacks Professor Emerita of Education and Public Policy at Stanford University and the founding director of the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities, an organization that partners with communities and youth-serving agencies to develop leadership, conduct research, and support policies to improve the lives of youth. She also founded and codirected Stanford’s Center for Research on the Context of Teaching, an interdisciplinary research center engaged in analysis of how teaching and learning are shaped by teachers’ organizational, institutional, and social cultural contexts. Prior to joining Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, she was a policy analyst at the RAND Corporation. McLaughlin is the author or coauthor of books, articles, and chapters on education policy issues, contexts for teaching and learning, productive environments for youth, and community-based organizations. She is a fellow of the National Academy of Education and the American Association of Arts and Sciences.

Kendra Fehrer is Senior Research Associate at the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford. Her research focuses on the intersection of family, community, culture, and policy in the lives of diverse youth. At the Gardner Center, she leads research in the areas of family engagement, community schools, youth development, student/youth services, and early childhood education. Previously, Fehrer lived and worked in Latin America, where she also served as a Fulbright scholar. Fehrer has taught young people from preschool to college-age. She holds a BA and MA in international development and social change from Clark University, and an MA and PhD in anthropology from Brown University.

Jacob Leos-Urbel currently works at Tipping Point Community, a poverty-fighting organization in the San Francisco Bay area. Previously, he was Associate Director at Stanford’s John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities from 2014–2018. His work focuses on understanding and improving programs and policies that promote opportunities and positive outcomes for children, youth, and families. He has published articles in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Economics of Education Review, Youth and Society, and Children Youth and Services Review. Leos-Urbel also has worked as a public policy professor at Claremont Graduate University, Director of Policy Research and Analysis at The After-School Corporation (TASC) in New York City, and school and community development volunteer with the US Peace Corps in Namibia. He holds a BA in sociology from Oberlin College, a master of public affairs from Princeton University, and a PhD in public administration from New York University.