Roger Hiemstra: The community school

Impington Village College

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This chapter from Roger Hiemstra’s The Educative Community (1997), originally written in the early 1970s, sets out some of the key elements of the North American community school.

contents: introduction ·the community school – center of community education · the community school – past and present · the administration of community schools · utilizing the community school · study stimulators · further reading and sources of help

Roger Hiemstra is Professor and Chair, Adult Education, Elmira College. He was inducted into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame in 2000. His books include Lifelong Learning (1976), Self-Direction in Adult Learning: Perspectives on Theory, Research, and Practice (1991), Environments for Effective Adult Learning (1991), and Overcoming Resistance to Self-Direction in Learning (1994), and Professional Writing (1994).

This chapter first appeared in The Educative Community (1972) and it has subsequently been revised. Hiemstra was a Mott Intern in the community education program in Flint, Michigan, for a year. The Mott Foundation was well known for his longstanding commitment to community schooling and community education.

links: to view the rest of The Educative Community go to Roger Hiemstra’s website. Se, also, the special feature on informal education in schools and the various pages on community schooling in The encyclopedia of pedagogy and informal education.


The community school – center of community education

Developing a sense of community and activating the educative community are important preludes to the community education process. In this process the community is thought of as belonging to all the people who reside there. The people, their problems, and the total community resources become central to all educational programs. In a community education setting, the community’s schools serve as centers for education; their programs are directed toward improving the entire community.

Community education can therefore be thought of as a process which involves all the people of a locality and assumes that the whole society is or can be engaged in education. Thus, if it is accepted that the school does belong to all the people, a wider view that schools can effectively serve people in more ways than just K-12 schooling must be taken. This means better utilization of the untapped skills and resources in the community as noted in Chapter Two and making better use of unused and available school space and equipment.

The community education process also implies that education has an impact upon the locality in which it is utilized. The successful community education program reflects the unique nature of the community it serves and meets the needs of most residents. The process has four major components:

1. Provision of diverse educational services to meet the varied learning needs of community residents of all ages;

2. Development of interagency cooperation and [various] public-private partnerships to reduce duplication of efforts and improve effectiveness in the delivery of human services;

3. Involvement of citizens in participatory problem solving and democratic decision making;

4. Encouragement of community improvement efforts that make the community more attractive to both current and prospective residents and businesses. (Decker, 1992, p. 7)

A philosophy that accompanies the community education process is that learning is a continuous, lifelong experience and need. This implies a process that begins in the home at birth, continues in the community school, and is perpetuated in the educative community throughout life. Several principles support this lifelong process:

* Self-Determination. [All] local people have a right and a responsibility to be involved in determining community needs and identifying community resources that can be used to address those needs.

* Self-Help. People are best served when their capacity to help themselves is encouraged and developed. When people assume responsibility for their own well-being, they become part of the solution and build independence rather than dependence.

* Leadership Development. The training of local leaders in such skills as problem solving, decision making, and group process is essential for ongoing self-help and community improvement efforts.

* Localization. Services, programs, and other community involvement opportunities that are close to where people live have the greatest potential for a high level of public participation. Whenever possible, these activities should be decentralized to locations of easy public access.

* Integrated Delivery of Services. Organizations and agencies that operate for the public good can meet their own goals and better serve the public by collaborating with other organizations and agencies that are working toward common goals.

* Maximum Use of All Resources. Full use of the physical, financial, and human resources of every community must be coordinated if the diverse needs and interests of the community are to be met effectively and without duplication.

* Inclusion. Community programs, activities, and services should involve the broadest possible cross section of community residents. The segregation or isolation of people by age, income, social class, sex, race, ethnicity, religion, or handicapping condition inhibits the full development of the community.

* Institutional Responsiveness. Public institutions exist to serve the public and therefore are obligated to develop programs and services that meet continuously changing public needs.

* Lifelong Learning. Learning begins at birth and continues until death. Formal and informal learning opportunities should be available to residents of all ages in a wide variety of community settings. (Anderson & Jeffrey, 1992, p. 27–see the Chapter Two bibliography)

Such principles and the development of continuous learning efforts is based on utilizing the total community as a teacher. Because the neighborhood school is a common denominator of community life for most people, it can be utilized as a vehicle for the planning, organization, and implementation of educational programs relevant to the entire community.

The public schools have a capacity for greater leadership and utilization than most are now experiencing. For example, school administrators and teachers could take a greater lead in building community solidarity. Most schools also can be used more as centers of educational service for people of all ages. In its ultimate goal, the school as a system can be used to influence the community toward constructive change by assisting community residents to solve various problems basic to community living.

In a traditional view, the school is limited primarily to facilitation of academic learning through day programs for children and youth. The broader view of school being promoted in this chapter–the community school–suggests quite a different approach to education. The community school is usually open many hours each day and school personnel work to help both youth and adults in solving various community and social problems.

Thus, this chapter’s purpose is to present the community school as an important part of a community’s educational process. Obviously, there are a number of community organizations and institutions that are important to successful community education programs, but the community school concept has evolved from utilizing the school as a center for recreation to the school as a center of community education and even change. The community, its schools, and a number of other agencies must become interdependent if education is to help meet the many needs of a modern, changing society.

The community school – past and present

The community school movement had its beginning in Flint, Michigan. Between 1932 and 1935, Flint was experiencing several kinds of problems. The community depended a great deal on the auto industry and economic hard times were affecting many residents. Some left the community in search of work and others moved in hoping to find jobs. This population instability made it difficult to obtain a stabilized educational program. An unstable educational system meant little financial support for the schools. Minimal service was provided students; obtaining money for new facilities was virtually impossible. Teacher salaries were low, resulting in many fine teachers steadily leaving the profession or area.

Related to the educational problems were the beginning of several community problems. The incidence of juvenile delinquency was rising, often resulting in property damage to schools and other community buildings. In addition, many people were often out of work or employed only part of the time, leading to community tensions and uneasiness. Mr. Charles Stewart Mott, who had been mayor of Flint and long active in various community affairs, was troubled by the problems in his adopted home. Mr. Mott had moved to Flint in 1907 to establish a supportive industry for auto manufacturers. He later owned many shares in a leading auto company and established a philanthropic foundation for purposes of helping American communities in their growth and development.

When Mr. Frank Manley, physical education and recreation supervisor in the Flint public schools, presented some ideas on how the school could begin to solve various community problems, Mr. Mott agreed to help. Thus, in 1935 the Mott Foundation contributed an initial $6,000 to the Flint Public Schools for purposes of greater utilization of school facilities and the community school concept was born.

The community school concept has been used synonymously with several terms: “the open-door policy,” “the lighted school house,” and “the neighborhood school.” The neighborhood school or community school is simply a school within easy access of local residents; access meaning a close proximity to where people live, a school open most hours of the year, and educational programs designed for, and in cooperation with, the residents. In essence, the community is a locality setting, with schools having a horizontal relationship to each other and to community citizens.

Educational services and programs are developed according to need and interest. Assuming that a community school is serving as one center for various educational programs in a community and that local citizens have helped plan programs, the community school can serve as a central focal point for the design of program. For example, a local scout group or 4-H club needs a site for their meetings and activities. A community elementary school could serve as such a site. Any other community elementary schools might be used in a similar manner.

Another example in a truly educative community might be that several children and parents work together on a first aid or CPR project in the late afternoons. For example, youth and their parents can come to a community middle school for instruction by a health teacher from the school system or a health specialist from the local Red Cross agency. The participants and instructor might use the school facilities for most of the educational project but could also share transportation for supplemental field trips to hospitals or health centers in local suburbs or the central city.

The interest in or need for the above project might not have been great enough to have such an activity in one or more of the elementary schools, but the middle school serves as a central site for a larger area without participants having to commute across a large community for the educational service. In any community, such a health education project could be held in both middle schools and even at other school sites if the interest was great enough.

A final example centers on the use of a community high school. In the model community an assumption is made that various residents expressed a desire to hear and see some currently popular artists of the area. The high school through its adult education program serves as a central location for presentations and displays by several artists.

When the community school process or philosophy is fully implemented, citizens contribute in many ways to school programs and to solving various community problems. For many people this will be a sequence of participation involving four concepts or words beginning with “in”:

1. INTO — Get community residents into the schools initially by means of educational opportunities based on their immediate needs.

2. INTERESTED — Get them interested in their own problems and problems that may be facing the community.

3. INFORMED — Help people become informed on how problems can be solved and why any responsible citizens should be concerned with community improvement.

4. INVOLVED — Ask people to help and to assume leadership roles in various educational endeavors directed toward solving community problems.

In Flint, citizen participation through the community schools has grown steadily since that initial $6,000 investment. Each year nearly 100,000 children and adults, out of a population of approximately 250,000, are involved in a variety of educational programs ranging from regular and experimental K-12 programs to adult education activities in community education programs. The community, like many in the United States and elsewhere, has experienced financial woes the past several years. However, recent reorganizational efforts, including the establishment of community education agent positions as described in Chapter Two, are working to keep the community school idea alive and vital.

The community school idea has grown far beyond the boundaries of Flint, Michigan. Many communities in the United States and other countries have initiated official community school programs in their own school systems. An estimated 10,500 school buildings in the U.S., alone, are currently available for community use (Weaver, 1992).

The April, 1983, issue of the Community Education Journal (see the bibliography) is a special issue on world-wide community education. Programs in Latin America, Ireland, Bangladesh, Fiji, Australia, Philippines, and West Germany are described. A number of other communities have elements of community education through either the schools, community colleges, and/or a variety of other community agencies. The Mott Foundation initially helped to establish several regional and university centers for community education and community school development. These centers, many of which receive support from both local and other sources, provide assistance and direction in furthering community education or training community educators, and serve as a source of growing information and knowledge about community education. The fall, 1989, issue of the same journal described the current status of the Mott Network related to community education and the movement’s developmental stages. Weaver (1992) does caution that the future of community education training in the U.S. is bleak. Hopefully, the new administration in Washington, D.C., will address such concerns.

Perhaps the clearest indication of continuing expansion of the community school idea is attention given to community education at state and federal levels. For example, the National Community Education Association maintains an office near Washington, DC, for purposes of national coordination and liaison with national legislators. The National Center for Community Education in Flint provides short-term community education training to about 400 people each year. A 1991-95 National Networking for State Community Education Capacity Building Project established by the Mid-Atlantic Center for Community Education also will provide some future training, perhaps meeting some of the concerns expressed above by Weaver (Decker, 1992). Finally, federal legislation for community education established in 1974 (Community Schools Act) provided some financial support for research, special projects, and local program development for several years, although such support today comes from a variety of sources.

Even given the current political stance at the federal level and in many state houses to reduce aid for community and social services, a variety of funding possibilities exist. Several states have passed community school acts for the purpose of providing state leadership and financial support to community education. New York, for example, has an annual School/Community Partnership Day to highlight ways that schools can strengthen education through greater use of community resources. In addition, in a growing number of school districts tax payers have approved support of community education programs.

The administration of community schools

Administering community schools is not the same as administering traditional schools. Many of the management principles are similar, but a community school administrator, director, or teacher must develop a sixth sense about the community in which the school exists. Involving students, parents, and other citizens in program planning and implementation, offering schools as centers for various community activities, and diagnosing community needs all require an expanded approach to organizing and operating school programs.

Staffing Needs. The staff requirements for a community school program vary some, although not extensively, from those for a more traditional school. Often when implementing the community school concept, the same staff members can be utilized; however, their training requirements and educational responsibilities can differ significantly.

The superintendent, for example, must be skilled at short- and long-range educational planning and evaluation that involves not only K-12 programs but also the relationship of all schools to total community educational needs. This leader becomes an overall manager of the educative community with the school board and/or a community advisory board providing advice and support. This same set of requirements exists in other community education organizations. For example, a vocational training institution will have a superintendent or director as the overall manager and frequently will be served by one or more advisory boards. Specialized training for such individuals exists in many adult education, community education, and/or educational administration university graduate programs.

The building principal in a community school also performs a different role than in the traditional school. Perhaps as much as one-half of the community school principal’s time is involved in establishing and administering educational programs related to the community. This could involve developing a coordinated effort between the school and various community agencies; it could involve home visitations by teachers and counselors to determine what is needed to help youngsters become better learners; it could include the establishment of educational experiences and opportunities throughout the community in which various citizens become involved. Responsibility in the school building thus becomes one of coordinating and guiding both in-class instruction and school initiated outreach efforts, rather than just monitoring instruction and student progress.

The community school requires an administrative unit to handle various functions. Such tasks as in-service education for staff, record-keeping, report-writing, public relations, working with problem children, and routing administrative operations needs to be handled by specialists, consultants, and administrative assistants, so the superintendent and principal can have additional time to spend in the community. These staff members normally report to the superintendent or to building principals.

The community school teacher also performs somewhat different roles. Such a teacher more closely relates what happens in the classroom to the home and to the community. As noted by Seeley (1984), home-school-community partnership are perhaps one of the most potent, and yet often neglected, strategies for improving educational quality. Some teachers will visit homes to better determine and understand educational needs. Other teachers will work with parents and students in supplemental educational activities in the home and in the community. Some teachers may conduct workshops for students and their parents on how to do homework more effectively. Other teachers will have at least a partial assignment working with adult and community education activities. Finally, some teachers will assume leadership roles over groups of teachers, paraprofessionals, and volunteers, probably in a single curricular area, to bring direction to the total educational efforts. If teachers are not specifically trained by universities to perform in these roles, in-service training through the schools might be necessary.

Various paraprofessional and volunteer roles nicely supplement community school programs. For example, many schools now use paraprofessional school aides. After receiving the necessary training, these people work with special populations on such topics as nutrition or child care education. There are, of course, many other roles that paraprofessionals can and do assume, ranging from being teaching aides in the classroom to assisting with after school programs or adult education activities. Direction and training is usually provided by professional school personnel. Ilsley and Niemi (1981 –see the Chapter Two bibliography) provides a variety of suggestions relative to recruiting and training volunteers.

The counselor or counseling staff plays an important role in implementing community school programs. Not only do counselors need to be trained to diagnose, prescribe, and evaluate educational programs, they also need to relate closely to home and community environments. Home visitations, counseling with parents, consultation with teachers, and dealing with multi-cultural or cross-cultural counseling needs become a regular part of the counseling function. Counselors also help teachers and administrators deal with special problems affecting people throughout the life-span.

The reorganization of a traditional school system into a community school program does not require the instant employment of large new staff. Often personnel already employed can simply be trained for and fulfill new roles. However, a community school system requires support by various auxiliary personnel. Some of the needed help will come in part from existing personnel; others may need to be newly employed, especially as the community education program grows. In several cities with successful community education programs, many of the following supportive staff positions exist: Community school nurse, librarian, medical specialist, senior citizen center coordinator, police-school liaison officer, and adult education specialist.

An important need in modern communities is adaptation to constant social change. The community schools, or in some instances a cooperating community center or social service agency, can facilitate this adaptation by adding a person, or persons, specially trained to deal with change as it affects the educational process. Such experts, sometimes called change agents, can provide coordination for the various social action programs in a community. A change specialist can also help build community understanding of and support for education.

A final staffing need is that of the community school director, community education coordinator, or, as noted in Chapter Two, community education agent. This is perhaps the most important position for success of any community education effort. Many of these individuals currently working with such programs have received special training in adult education, community education, and/or recreational leadership. Community school directors frequently are charged with coordinating after school programs, as well as administering adult education programs, coordinating senior citizen activities, and liaisoning with various service organizations that use the school buildings in some capacity. Such people need to be especially tuned to the educational needs and interests of all families living within the boundaries of the school jurisdiction for which they have responsibility. Thus, the community school director uses various kinds of inputs to determine what educational programs and services will best fulfill local needs; they also must be skilled in evaluation, public relations, and communications.


Program Options. There are various educational programs and activities that can be developed within a community education organization. They can be designed as a supplement to the regular school day programs for children or as extracurricular activities outside the regular school hours. They can be developed for youth, parents, senior citizens, and other interested community residents. The programs and activities developed over many years in the Flint community schools will be used as examples in the following discussion.

Enriching the curriculum of daytime programs for youth can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Arts and crafts, breakfast and lunch programs, creative dramatics, gifted child programs, health clinics, puppetry, and sunrise singing are some of the activities that can be included in the community school program with cooperation from an educative community. Flint has also developed and added such curriculum-related programs as special programs for inner-city youth, a personalized curriculum for potential dropouts, and special programs for disabled youngsters.

The community school concept also provides a unique opportunity for youth through late-afternoon or weekend activities. Recreational programs, supplemental instruction, cultural activities, and hobby classes can be made available after the regular school session. Some community schools, for example, cooperate with character-building activities such as 4-H, Big Brothers, Stepping Stone programs (for girls), and scouting programs.

Evening activities are another important part of the community school program. Adults and teens are the primary participants. Teen clubs, parent-child activities, recreational activities, and adult education classes can be organized. The Flint adult education program, for example, includes such courses or activities as Adult Basic Education, high school completion, typing, antique finishing, knitting, word processing, oil painting, expectant couples classes, lecture-discussion programs, and senior citizen programs. Some communities even offer adult education programs 24 hours a day to accommodate people who work early evening or night shifts.

Many communities currently have large adult education programs similar to those described above through the schools, community colleges, senior citizen organizations, and various other groups. This obviously provides an excellent start if the community education concept is newly implemented. However, the Flint experiences have shown that evening activities must be based on the expressed or determined needs of community residents.

Summers, too, can be filled with educational and recreational activities for young and old. Adult education classes, tours, trips, and recreational programs can be coordinated by the community school director or this person can work in close cooperation with community recreational personnel to insure that needs are assessed, information is disseminated to residents, and a wide use of school facilities is made possible.

Appendix 3-A at the conclusion of this chapter shows the daily community education programs from schools in two different communities to illustrate the variety of program options. (The material was adapted from Gregg (1969).

Financing. This section does not include a precise statement on how to finance a community school program. Some of the sources at the conclusion of this chapter and Chapter Two provide additional information of that nature. In reality, financing any program must take on a flavor representing the community in which it resides.

Obviously, the addition of educational programs takes increased financial support; however, reorganizing a traditional school into a community school can be accomplished with minimal initial increases. Typically a successful community school program that better meets the needs of all taxpayers will receive additional financial support as it is required. Flint and other locations with community education programs frequently have experienced significant increases in bond and millage approval after initiating their efforts. It appears that once community residents think of the school as “their” agency they are much more inclined to provide adequate support for additional programming.

Most locations with community education programs have demonstrated that the added initial costs for such efforts are not high. An additional 6 to 8 percent is usually all that is required. Most of that increase goes to pay the community school director and directly related expenses. The adult education program often pays for itself through participant fees, thereby keeping the expense of increased programs quite low. Additional money required for custodial services, lighting, equipment, and miscellaneous expense is usually minimal.

Obtaining that dollar increase might not be an easy task. However, there are many sources that communities might examine. Foundations, various state and federal funding sources related to education or training, business and industry, community agencies, private donors, volunteer help, tuition, class fees, and money making projects are a few of the possibilities. Also, a number of states currently have laws that provide monies for initiating and operating community education programs.

Facilities. The facilities required for effective education are very important to a community school program. Flint has found, for example, that a community room in each school serves many purposes. It is a place where residents can meet to plan for educational programs, hold various community activities, and identify as their part of the school. When a community is just beginning to function under the community education concept, it probably can adapt one room in the school for such use. As the program and corresponding financial support grow, rooms used for community education programs can be added, enlarged, or found in other community settings. A number of school systems have converted portions of previously closed schools for community education activities.

Other facilities might already be available, but they need to be examined from a different view point to consider new or expanded uses for community school programs. The gymnasium, for example, can play an important role beyond typical physical education classes and athletics for youth. Again, using Flint as an example, special wheels and protective equipment are utilized so that students and parents can roller skate in the gyms. Gyms can also be utilized for youth group activities, adult recreational activities, and large group meetings. In addition, libraries, auditoriums, playgrounds, and classrooms can all be utilized for adult education, university extension programs, senior citizen activities, and a wide variety of other functions.

Expanding facilities use, time-wise and climate-wise, is also possible. Community schools can be open 16-24 hours each day, six or even seven days a week, all year long. In addition, in a community education setting the schools are used as fully as possible by people of all ages and backgrounds. Consequently, in many places air conditioning must be considered, especially for summer programs. Parking areas and adequate lighting for adult education participants often need to be addressed when initiating community education. Finally, the comfort of adult participants, especially senior citizen, should be considered. This might require larger furniture for some rooms, coffee and smoking arrangements, work tables for some activities, and special attention to such features as lighting, color, and temperature control. Hiemstra (1991–see the Chapter Two bibliography), the Educational Facilities Laboratories (1979), and Vosko (1984, 1985) provide some insight into adult education facility and learning environment needs.

The discussion of facility arrangements thus far has dealt only with the school buildings or property. In the educative community, educational programs can be made available in many places. Thus, any plans to change existing school facilities should be coordinated with the potential use of existing community facilities. The YMCA might serve as a recreation center for after-school activities. The community college can provide a variety of credit and non-credit programs for adults. The vocational-technical training institution can provide vocational support to public and private schools. Churches, too, can be used as adult education sites. Each community should be able to develop a community education program utilizing various existing facilities. Chapter Five provides more detail on the coordination efforts that are needed for a successful educative community effort.

Utilizing the community school

Creating a community room for each school, hiring community school coordinators, and advertising several adult education classes will not automatically solve all community problems or even win additional financial support for education. Utilization of the community school concept for improving a community requires careful planning, coordination, and, especially, adaptation of any resulting educational programs to the particular community in which they are being implemented.

Initiating a community school program first requires some careful planning and analysis of the community’s educational needs. This will involve such processes or actions as initiating community surveys, using committees and advisory boards for study and planning, and understanding the power structure of a community so that key community leaders can be involved in decision-making. Chapter Six discusses in greater detail various community action processes and models, community study/analysis techniques, and power structure analysis methodologies.

Any community school program might be designed by utilizing various kinds of inputs to the planning process. First, information from an assessment of community needs is used. Second, evaluation of education already available in the school and in the community is made. This evaluation process becomes continual after the program begins, and is used as a constant feedback of information for future program planning. Third, input is sought from some type of community advisory committee charged with assisting in the development of educational programs. A cautionary note needs to be made at this point. Those charged with designing community education programs utilizing such inputs need to keep such information as current as possible because community needs are in fact a moving target. The time required to administer a successful program can become extensive, but slighting the input side of the planning process is not a good trade-off.

The community school coordinator thus works in cooperation with other school personnel to design educational activities based on various inputs. The program is then administered by the director, the community education staff, and any other necessary people. The program’s success usually depends a great deal on the coordinator’s ability to balance programs outputs and corresponding requirements on staff time with any inputs utilized in designing the programs and activities. Thus, a balance between evaluating, working with advisory councils, assessing community needs, and actually administering the program is necessary.

Community advisory council inputs are important to a successful community education program for several reasons. First, the council should consist of representatives from all parts of community life so that a “pulse” of the community can be taken. Another purpose for forming a council is to involve both parents and other residents in developing educational programs for people of all ages within the community. Councils can provide information on educational needs and interests, identify potential community leaders, and give advice on educational programs. They also can help improve cooperation and understanding between school personnel and community citizens, assuming that members receive adequate orientation, training, and knowledge about their roles.

Community residents can also be used in many ways distinct from an advisory role. Assisting with youth programs, helping furnish the community room, and instructing some adult education courses are some ways citizens can be involved with the community education program. As was noted in the preceding chapter, involving community members in the planning and implementation of programs with personal payoff will help to strengthen the community and assist in its adaptation to social change. Final success of the community school in helping to meet various community needs entails cooperation and interaction between people and agencies, both horizontally and vertically. This means that community schools need to communicate how they can help in problem solution and community residents need to communicate how they would like any community education programs to operate.

For a relatively small investment toward slightly altered facilities and a community school coordinator, communities can receive expanded educational services aimed at bettering the lives of residents. A community school can become an agent of cohesiveness that brings citizens, neighborhoods, and the larger community closer together and a center from which the educative community is developed. Some scholars even suggest that community education programs are the last hope in solving the many problems threatening our very existence.

Much of this chapter has been written with the middle-sized urban community as a model. This is because it started in Flint, Michigan, and many of the principles and techniques were developed there. The community school model has some limitations and continues to evolve. But the model has had enough success in a wide variety of settings that most communities will benefit by using it as a model around which to build an educative community.

Larger communities like New York City and Chicago will need to make allowances for neighborhood differences. Small or rural communities may need to develop community schools on a regional basis, where one community school coordinator administers programs in several schools located in adjacent towns or areas. However applied, the community education model has the potential of making education, schools, and citizen involvement a greater tool in meeting the many needs of people.

Study stimulators

1. The community education process has been described in this chapter. What sort of adaptations on the process would need to be made for it to work in your community?

2. Derive a philosophical statement that you would like to see as a foundation for initiating a community education program.

3. What are some of the various new and/or expanded roles you see as necessary for teachers in a community school setting compared to a more traditional school setting? For building principals? For various support personnel?

4. How do you believe the Clinton administration will affect the neighborhood school concept? How will the currently growing interest in “localism” affect the concept?

5. Flint, Michigan, has a large percentage of its population in some way involved in education. Determine (or estimate) the numbers and percentage involved in your community.

6. How are your local schools dealing with constant social change? What improvements would you suggest?

7. How are community and/or adult education programs in your locale financed? What recommendations would you make for obtaining additional financial support?

8. Determine the various adult education opportunities offered in your local school district. Does it seem adequate to meet the educational needs you have observed in your community?

Further reading and sources of help

(Also see several books and periodicals cited in Chapter Two – see below).

Allen, G., Bastiani, J., Martin, I., & Richards, K. (Eds.). (1987). Community education: An agenda for educational reform. Milton Keynes, UK: Open University Press. 284 pages. Name Index. Subject (Themes) Index. References at the end of each chapter. The editors pull together contributions from 15 authors to provide an agenda for future action and change. They also present a challenge to community educators to extend the theories of practice which inform their work.

Berridge, R. I., West, P. T., & Stark, S. L. (1977). Training the community educator: A case-study approach. Midland, MI: Pendell Publishing Company. 150 pages. Annotated readings. Twenty-four case studies are presented providing a variety of information relative to staffing, coordinating, financing, and evaluating community education programs.

Burden, L., & Whitt, R. L. (1983). The community school principal. Midland, MI: Pendell Publishing Company. 250 pages. Index. Appendices. The book contains seven chapters and several helpful appendices designed to describe the role and responsibility of a principal working with community education programs.

Community Education Journal. Published quarterly by the National Community Education Association, Alexandria, VA. Articles are published on all aspects of community school operation and community education.

Current. Published 10 times per year, by the Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation (Heldref Publications), Washington, DC. The magazine reprints articles from a wide variety of periodicals, with occasional articles on community education included.

Decker, L. E. (1992). Building learning communities: Realities of education restructuring. In L. E. Decker & V. A. Romney (Eds.), Educational restructuring and the community education process. Alexandria, VA: National Community Education Association. This chapter sets a framework for the book.

Decker, L. E. (1992). Community education: Building learning communities (Revised Edition). Alexandria, VA: National Community Education Association. 23 pages. This pamphlet provides an introduction to the concept of community education. It covers such topics as school use, community goals, community education principles, and examples of programs in various U.S. communities.

Decker, L. E., & Romney, V. A. (1990). Community education across America. Charlottesville, VA: Mid-Atlantic Center for Community Education, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia. 295 pages. This book describes the evolution of community education networks across the United States. Profiles of the various programs in each state are provided.

Decker, L. E., & Romney, V. A. (Eds.). (1992). Educational restructuring and the community education process. Alexandria, VA: National Community Education Association. 140 pages. References. This packed sourcebook contains 22 chapters written by 23 authors. Various current issues pertaining to community education in the U.S. are presented, including both national and state examples.

Educational facilities laboratories. (1979). Facility issues in community school centers (Booklet No. 4). New York: Educational Facilities Laboratories, 850 Third Avenue. 30 pages. This booklet details suggested design needs and strategies for community school centers. Detailed guides and planning checklists are included.

Gregg, P. K. (1969). A community school: Day to day operations. In H. W. Hickey, C. VanVoorhees, & Associates (Eds.), The role of the school in community education. Midland, MI: Pendell Publishing Company. This chapter describes the schools role and offers some examples of what is possible.

Guglielmino, L. M. (1991). The Phoenix on Sixth Street: Community education in action. Community Education Journal, 19(1), 11-13. In this article the author describes the process for funding and the operation of a multi-purpose education center in Florida.

Henry, N. B. (Ed.). (1953). The community school (52nd Yearbook, Part II, National Society for the Study of Education). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 292 pages. Index. The information is presented as a handbook for teachers and administrators in developing community school programs. It includes such topics as defining the community school, describing programs, outlining organization and administrative needs, and describing how to help people, schools, and communities work together.

Minzey, J. D., & LeTarte C. (1979). Community education: From program to process. Midland, MI: Pendell Publishing Company. 301 pages. The authors present seventeen chapters on initiating and establishing a community education program. Chapters on such topics as adult education, recreation, staffing, the history of community education, and financing community education are included.

Olsen, E. G., & Clark, P. A. (1977). Life-centering education. Midland, MI: Pendell Publishing Company. 201 pages. Subject Index. Name Index. Appendices. The book is a discussion of community education in light of current trends. One major section describes how curriculum can be centered around life and human concerns.

Poster, C., & Kruger, A. (Eds.). (1990). Community education in the western world. New York: Routledge. 207 pages. Index. References. The book compiles the thoughts of 19 community education specialists from around the world. It describes the rich variety of community education or development ideas and practices in many countries.

Reed, H. B. (Ed.). (1992). Lifelong learning in the community: An annotated, cross-referenced bibliography. Amherst, MA: Community Education Resource Center, University of Massachusetts. 373 pages. Bibliographies are presented on adult education, continuing education, and community education.

Seay, M. F., & Associates. (1974). Community education: A developing concept. Midland, MI: Pendell Publishing Company. 424 pages. Subject Index. Name Index. List of References. The authors provide 17 chapters covering such topics as the agencies of community education, advisory councils and their role, the community college’s role, and research activities in community education.

Seeley, D. S. (1984). Why home-school-community partnership? Community Action in Education, 10 (April), 16-19. The author describes the productive relationships that can emerge from home-school-community partnerships.

Vosko, R. S. (1984). Shaping spaces for lifelong learning. Lifelong Learning: An Omnibus of Practice and Research, 9 (10), 4-7, 28. In this article the author develops some practical suggestions for using space in adult education programs.

Vosko, R. S. (1985). The reactions of adult learners to selected institutional environments. (Doctoral dissertation, Syracuse University, 1984). Dissertation Abstracts International, 45, 3519A. 242 pages. Appendices. References. A qualitative study of how adults perceive and react to physical settings in which continuing education courses are offered. Some useful implications for adult and community educators are included.

Weaver, D. C. (1992). The community education ethos: Relationship of principles to practice. In L. E. Decker & V. A. Romney (Eds.), Educational restructuring and the community education process. Alexandria, VA: National Community Education Association. This chapter describes the history up to the present status of community education in the United States.

Whitt, R. L. (1971). A handbook for the community school director. Midland, MI: Pendell Publishing Company. 133 pages. Bibliography. The author provides a concise handbook on the day-to-day problems facing a community school director. Chapters cover such topics as community involvement needs, obtaining program support, working with teachers, and developing a budget.

Young, C. H., & Quinn, W. A. (1963). Foundations for living. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 254 pages. Index. This book portrays the life and story of C. S. Mott, founder of the Mott Foundation, and describes Flint, Michigan, the community in which he lived.

Professional Organizations

The following professional organizations support the community education movement throughout the United States in various ways. The information was adapted from information supplied by the Mid-Atlantic Center for Community Education, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA.

Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The Mott Foundation has financially supported community education efforts for many years. For more information contact the Mott Foundation, 1200 Mott Foundation Building, Flint, MI 48502-1851 (313-238-5651).

National Center for Community Education. The National Center provides various types of short-term training, workshops, and information related to community education. For more information contact the National Center for Community Education, 1017 Avon Street, Flint, MI 48503 (313-238-0463).

National Coalition for Community Education (NATCO). NATCO was established in 1987 to address issues necessary to sustain the field of community education. For information contact NATCO, 7438 Crooked Lake Drive, Delton, MI 49046 (616-623-8571).

National Committee for Citizens in Education (NCCE). NCCE is a private, non-profit organization devoted to improving school quality through increased public involvement. For information contact NCCE, 900 2nd Street, N.E., Suite 8, Washington, DC 20002-3559 (202-408-0447).

National Community Education Association (NCEA). NCEA was founded in 1966 to advance and support various community education activities. For information contact NCEA, 801 North Fairfax Street, Suite 209, Alexandria, VA 22314 (703-683-6232).

National Community Education Computer Network (CENET). CENET promotes community education information sharing and dissemination through electronic networking. For more information contact CENET, 106 Cannon Place, Charlottesville, VA 22901 (804-977-1126).

National Council of State Community Education Associations. The National Council provides some coordination of various state efforts to promote community education. For more information contact the National Council, 6425 West 33rd Street, St. Louis Park, MN 55426 (612-925-4300).

Appendix 3-A

Schedule for a Rural Elementary Community School


7:00-8:00 a.m. Stay-in-shape for men and women Gym Daily

8:00-8:30 a.m. Spanish – grades 4-8 108 Daily

8:30-3:00 p.m. Regular K-6 program Various Weekly

10:00-11:00 a.m. Prenatal nutrition for expectant moms Community Weekly

12:00-1:00 p.m. Community Business Leaders’ lunch Community Monthly

1:30-3:00 p.m. Preparation of exotic foods Community Monthly

3:00-4:00 p.m. Science enrichment – grades 5 & 6 208 Weekly

3:30-5:00 p.m. Intramurals – basketball Gym Daily

5:00-7:00 p.m. Boy Scouts 108 Monthly

7:00-10:00 p.m. Adult education program Various Weekly

* Basic reading

* Using computers in farm management

* Typing/keyboarding

* Beginning painting

7:00-8:00 p.m. Gymnastics & trampoline – Ages 7-10 Gym Weekly

8:00-9:00 p.m. Gymnastics & trampoline – Ages 11-14 Gym Weekly

7:00-10:00 p.m. Senior citizens – Genealogy 210 Biweekly

7:00-9:30 p.m. Teen music and dance Community Weekly


Schedule for an Urban Elementary Community School

7:00-8:00 a.m. Jogging Playfield Daily

7:30-8:00 a.m. Sunrise Singers – grades 4-6 101 Weekly

8:30-3:00 p.m. Regular K-6 Programs Various Daily

10:00-11:00 a.m. Early childhood training for moms Community Weekly

10:00-11:00 a.m. Story hour for preschoolers Library Weekly

12:00-1:00 p.m. Local business leaders lunch w/students Community Weekly

1:30-3:00 p.m. Nutritional needs of senior citizens Community Weekly

4:00-5:00 p.m. Intramurals – volleyball Gym Daily

4:00-6:00 p.m. Senior citizens card playing club 118 Weekly

5:00-7:00 p.m. Roller skating for families Gym Biweekly

7:00-10:00 p.m. Adult education program Various Weekly

* American history

* Oil painting

* Writing short stories

* Woodworking

7:00-9:30 p.m. Teen dance Community Weekly

7:00-9:45 p.m. University Extension course 201 Weekly

7:00-10:00 p.m. Committee on multicultural studies 116 Monthly

12:00-2:00 a.m. Men’s 2nd shift basketball league Gym Weekly

To cite this chapter: Hiemstra, R. (1997) ‘The community school’ in The Educative Community: Linking the Community, Education, and Family, Baldwinsville, New York: HiTree Press.  Reproduced in the informal education archives:

The full text of Roger Hiemstra’s (1997) The Educative Community: Linking the Community, Education, and Family can be found on:

© 1982, 1997 Roger Hiemstra (Updated in 2000) © 1972: Professional Educators Publications, Lincoln, Nebraska.
First placed in the archives: April 2002. Reprinted with permission.