If there is one opportunity that emerged from the political, racial, and pandemic-centered strife of the past two years, it is the recognition that communities are the heartbeat of our education ecosystem.

While schools are embedded in communities, the education that occurs within communities has largely been framed as separate from school—after-school, out-of-school, and informal learning. The pandemic challenged the distinction by connecting the classroom directly to the community – the parents, families and organizations that support students outside of the school building.

Examples include:

Now that students are returning to school, will strong community and district partnerships be a moment in time or an opportunity to reimagine?

Education is a shared responsibility of schools and the communities in which schools exist. As such, it is important to move beyond simply inviting families, parents and students in for “community engagement,” to creating the space for communities to be partners in the design of social, emotional, and academic learning.

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