COMMUNITY Schools are What Work

Athens/CCSD friends: a couple of days ago I posted a long list of local organizations that do great community schools work inviting people to mention ones in the comments that I would inevitably omit or forget– so many people did. Somehow my UPDATE ended up as a DELETE and damn, the thing has disappeared.

So this is the original list:

Family Connection/Communities in Schools
U-Lead Athens
Young Designers Program
Georgia College Advising Corps
Clarke County Mentoring Program
Athens Tutorial Program
Food2Kids: a project of the Food Bank
Athens Land Trust, including West Broad Market Garden, Young Urban Farmers, Young Urban Builders
Books For Keeps
Bethel Reading Group
Junior League
AthFest Educates
Foundation for Excellence
Chess and Community
Dunta Robinson Foundation
College Factory
Project Rewire (an initiative of Chess and Community, the
Dunta Robinson Foundation and College Factory)
Georgia Conflict Center,
Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement,
Athens public library,
Athens Peer Court
Interfaith Hospitality Network
Children First
Boys and Girls Club
Athens YMCA
Experience UGA
Camp Amped of Nuci’s Space
Athens Made
Four Athens
Local school Governance Teams (LSGTs) at each school

And here are the new ones culled from the comments thanks to my friends doing some of this good work as employees, volunteers.board member, supporters

Girls Rock Athens
PAL Physical Activity Learning Program
Prevent Child Abuse Athens’ Healthy Families Program
Athens Area Homeless Shelter
Economic Justice Coalition
USGBC Georgia’s High Performance Healthy Schools program
Strong Girls Serve
Early Head Start and Head Start
Community Connection – 211
Partners for a Prosperous Athens
College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP)
Catholic Social Services
Athens Housing Authority
Athens Park and Rec
UUFA’s PARES –w– Alps Road Elementary
YMCO Summer Girls Club
Red Clay Writing Camp
Awesome Clubhouse @ La Escuelita (forgot how to spell it SJ)
The Hatch
She Speaks Academy
Project SAFE
The Cottage
Casa di Amistad

Community schools are what work– and we have such potential in our district for that approach that is getting real results around the country

Teachers are Not the Problem with Clarke County Schools

Several years ago, a wise principal told me, “You know, the real problem is that teachers have less and less control over what goes on in their classroom, but more and more responsibility for the results.” (“Results,” of course, meant standardized test score results.) That was right about the time I started noticing how many good teachers our local schools were losing—the kind of teachers every parent hopes their kids will have, the kind of teachers we had when we were kids ourselves.


For the rest, please go here.


When you’re occasionally an insomniac and doing Internet “research” for your “work” you sometimes chance upon something really important, like dear Vivian Connell’s final blogpost One Last Time ( including a few video highlights like this one:

This is powerful stuff( to be set aside for sometime when you don’t mind being sad, inspired, uplifted, sad. And I think it will be appreciated all over again by the many people who knew and loved Vivian (“Vi” to many). Hard to believe it’s already been two years in real time– she was an amazing person and this reads like a great outline for a biographer someday.

May God bless Vivian and her family in Chapel Hill, and may God bless the rest of her family and friends, and the causes she held near and dear, especially to wit: public education, equity and a functioning system of government to ensure them.

And since it’s Vivian who loved music and a good sad tune as a matter of course, I have a couple of a ideas for a soundtrack for this one, strangely by the same artist Aimee Mann on Lost I n Space:

“Invisible Ink” (“it’s hard to keep straight, perspective is everything”)

“That’s How I Knew This Story Would Break Your Heart” (“So, like a ghost in the snow, I’m getting ready to go, ‘Cause baby that’s all I know –How to open the door”)

“Its’ Not” (“I keep going round and round on the same old circuit, A wire travels underground to a vacant lot, Where something I can’t see interrupts the current, And shrinks the picture down to a tiny dot, And from behind the screen it can look so perfect, But it’s not”)

And because it’s Vivian and I’m lucky enough to be alive, she’d want it to end with an early lost classic of the hometown band we first met over and its title, meant ironically of course (I think):

All Right Right Friends, the original recording from the early 80s (I know you say, maybe someday”)

Wanted: Strong Candidates Who Believe in Public Schools by Jeff Bryant, Bertis Downs

A few years ago, I decided to quit bothering with politics. I’d had it with politicians who say one thing and do another, who say they support public schools but abandon this conviction once in office. Talk is cheap, and when it comes to public education, political talk is especially cheap.

I set about working to improve our local schools at the grassroots level, because the way we do education affects everybody’s kids. Soon, however, I realized that to make a difference in public education, I had to engage in politics.

So many important decisions that affect schoolchildren in my town, in your town and in every town in Georgia are made in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Politicians make decisions about funding our schools, providing extra support for students who need it, regulating the number of kids in classes, ensuring the quality of the facilities students learn in, determining the number and frequency of tests they take, and deciding how to interpret and use the results of those tests.

For the rest, please go here.

Library of Congress Education Vimeo on

Bertis Downs on the State of Athens Schools

Best known as R.E.M.’s lawyer, for many years Athens resident Bertis Downs has been an advocate for—and become something of an expert on—public education.


In it, Downs argues for continuing the decentralized approach that the Clarke County School District agreed to pursue when it became a charter system.

“We need to increase our social workers, our after-school programs, our mentoring programs, our health clinics—all the things that true community school models do,” he says. “We’re perfectly set up for that if we just go by that. I really believe we’re all in this together.”

For the rest, please go to Flagpole here.

Colm Toibin visits Clarke Central HS: A somewhat extraordinary hour of high school on an otherwise ordinary day

In this post, an Athens resident describes a recent event that occurred at Clarke Central High School. Famed Irish writer Colm Toibin visited and engaged with students, not the usual activity on a regular school day but one that captures some of the extraordinary things that happen in this school district.

Our town was just treated to a three-day visit by the Irish writer Colm Toibin. He stayed busy presenting readings, public conversations and classes at the University of Georgia as the Delta Visiting Chair for the Willson Center for the Humanities and Arts, our remarkable and vital public humanities center. Thanks to the efforts of the organizers of his trip, he spent an hour with some of the students at Clarke Central High School.

For the rest, please go here

100+ Days of Action: Getting Involved in Public Education

When I am asked how to best “get involved” on public education issues I guess I think of a few salient things:

1)  Volunteer at whatever level is best for you: your local school, broader local issues, statewide or national policy issues. Our schools need the help everywhere and each of those levels have their own importance.

2)  In my advocacy I always try to focus on the connection (or disconnection)  between policy and practice. How do the laws that are passed in Atlanta and Washington affect the teaching and learning that goes on in classrooms every day?

3)  Happy and fulfilled teachers are an essential feature of any properly functioning school – – as a wise person once said: “a teacher’s working conditions are my child’s learning conditions.”   Teachers, and the other adults in a school community, truly are doing the Lord’s work— they deserve our thanks, our encouragement and our support.

4)  Acknowledge and celebrate what works in our schools, the many miracles and lives affected every day; at the same time,  we all need to work to address the many challenges that our schools face.

For the rest, please go here.