South Los Angeles

Issue 2 Spring 2022

A publication of the UCLA Center for Community Schooling, featuring multimedia public scholarship to inform the collective struggle for democracy, justice and public education.

Editorial Introduction

This is an historic moment for community schooling. California is starting to roll out its unprecedented $3B investment to strengthen and expand community schools across the state and there are important national efforts such as the Brookings Institution’s Task Force on Next Generation Community Schools to help define and support community-driven, equity strategies that leverage the latest evidence on teaching and learning. In service to this growing movement, our second issue curates stories and resources that lift up the voices of diverse community members, including teachers, parents, students, and partners. We aim to capture the process of creating and sustaining community schools–in hopes that it will inform others engaged in the challenging work of disrupting longstanding inequities. 

This work involves both reflection and action, praxis, or what we call public scholarship. Schools that create space to collectively grapple with big ideas and theories in the context of daily school practice are living examples of democratic education. 

Our focus in this issue is the Horace Mann UCLA Community School, where we have worked for the past seven years, highlighting the school’s collective inquiry and action to re-establish its place as the cornerstone of public education in its South Los Angeles neighborhood. Three themes animate the school case: the power of history and stability in neighborhoods that experience trauma, racism, and poverty; the importance of supporting and embracing student and parent agency; and the power of love to guide this journey.  A discussion guide follows the case to inspire other schools to think and talk about their history, core beliefs and opportunities to strengthen their community-based vision for teaching and learning. 

Our teacher scholarship feature brings together two community science teachers and two UCLA graduate student researchers to share their collective inquiry over the past four years. Together, they have supported students in understanding and disrupting the unjust consequences of environmental inequalities and created projects and activities that link the social, economic and political aspects of community life to ecological features. This resource-rich set of reflections, activities, and curricula articulates the work of community teachers in supporting students’ growth as critical thinkers and generators of knowledge.

Community schools are designed to reflect local needs, assets, and priorities. In our Youth Research feature, we invite you to listen to six students at Mann UCLA Community School. As part of a Service Learning and Leadership course, these students conducted research on their learning environment and shared their findings–a youth-driven needs and assets assessment. Exploring topics that mattered to them–access to healthy meals and snacks, engaging activities, and a learning environment that inspires creativity, motivation and inspiration–this 12-minute podcast highlights the important role students can play in the assessment process and in creating learning spaces where “all students feel that they matter.”  

We are grateful to Curtiss Sarikey, a member of our Editorial Board, for sharing his thoughts on the current opportunities and challenges facing California as it embarks on its ambitious plan to support the transformation of over 1,000 schools. This commentary shares his experiences supporting community schools in San Francisco Unified and Oakland Unified School District and charts a powerful vision for the collective journey ahead. 

Thank you for reading, listening and watching the public scholarship in this second issue. And we invite you to stay tuned for our Fall 2022 issue when we reach beyond California to share exciting community schools work underway in North Carolina. If you have ideas for how we can help the century-old community schools movement focus on the big ideas and the journey of public education, please drop us a line

Karen Hunter Quartz & Marisa Saunders

Cover art by Marvin Gutierez

Marvin is a 6th grade student at UCLA Community School. Marvin participated in a school-wide art campaign where students were asked, “What does community mean to you?” According to Marvin: “Community means helping people in need, family and friends and pets all together, cleaning up the earth and planting gardens. The lines represent people that are cleaning the world that is represented by the circle full of happiness and excitement.”