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Teachers wanting to get to know their students and families better can look to community organizations for information. Taking the time to learn about local political activity and community organizations has the potential to yield benefits. These organizations often reflect the issues that are relevant to the community, such as safety, affordable housing, and educational issues, all important to a student’s social-emotional development.
A great example of a community organization that can help teachers get to know their students and families better is the Boyle Heights Learning Collaborative (BHLC). A community organization based in Los Angeles, the BHLC has worked with schools, the school district, parents, and the community to identify educational issues affecting students. A major issue for this predominantly Latino community is the low number of students completing high school. To address this issue, the BHLC presented a series of workshops called Transition to High School. Involving parents and students alike, the workshops aimed to provide students with information about high school requirements and to build a common understanding that would help to support students.
Local community organizations and grassroots movements are driven by a spirit of educational reform and community well-being. These types of organizations are involved in creating the social capital needed to facilitate community advocacy. The primary goal is to create connectedness among the school, parents, and the community to develop strong alliances and to develop and maintain a proactive mindset.
Community organizations offer a unique and holistic understanding of their constituents due to shared goals, common language and culture. I encourage you to research local community organizations to get a pulse on what are important issues in the lives of the families you serve.