Issue 4 Summer 2023

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

Community schools bring together resources, supports and partners to transform the learning of all students, especially our most vulnerable. In our fourth issue, we share a story of transformation from Oakland, California. Told from the complementary perspectives of three students, a teacher, a district liaison, and a university partner, this story focuses on the pressing issue of homelessness and how a community came together to study, plan, and take action to support its young people who are unhoused.  

Oakland High School, an historic, public school that opened its doors in 1869, is the context for this story. From its early years as a pioneering public high school to its recent achievements in academic excellence and its commitment to racial and social justice, Oakland High School continues to be a vital part of the Oakland community. The school case is told by Trish Anderson, the district’s McKinney-Vento liaison—an individual dedicated to ensuring that those students experiencing homelessness, and their families, receive the supports needed so that they can participate fully in their schooling experience. The school case lifts the importance of student agency, partnership, and the central belief that all students deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. 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 highlights the work of Law and Social Justice pathway teacher, Mallory Logan, who engages her students in transformative learning experiences–using the surrounding community as the context for their scholarship. Through action research, her students have tackled a range of urgent issues, most recently the youth homelessness crisis. Her students serve as “consultants for change,” while learning from and engaging with community members and classmates. This brief provides a step-by-step guide for developing students’ critical career and research skills in the context of their community.

Akayla Matthews, Laiza Eve Reconoco, and Victor Diaz, students from the Law and Social Justice Pathway at Oakland High School, share their action research focused on understanding the learning experiences, opportunities and outcomes of their peers who are unhoused. Students share what it feels like to be trusted to engage in authentic policy work—learning about a real issue facing their community, and connecting what they learn in the classroom to their lives outside of school to make lasting change. Students detail their research and policy recommendations, many of which have been shared with and taken up by district policy-makers and city officials. Fellow researchers document their experiences in an engaging student-produced video.

Our last feature—Policy ABCs (Actions, Briefs, and Commentaries)—highlights the opportunity to create coherence and serve our most vulnerable students, through California’s $4.1 billion investment in community schools. Revisiting the work of students and teachers in Oakland, Dr. Deborah McKoy from the University of California, Berkeley, explores how the community schools strategy can bring together a range of allied initiatives–California’s Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative, Expanded Learning Time, Dual Enrollment, Golden State Pathways, and more—to create the learning environments wherein all students can thrive.

We are thankful to the team of students, teachers, administrators, district personnel and partners from Oakland who came together to share their story of community schooling and transformation. Rooted in the power of student voice, each of the issue’s four features relay a clear message: the moment is now to align and leverage programs, practices and investments to serve our most vulnerable youth. As we are reminded, “no young person can thrive when they know their peers are suffering.”

In our next issue, we’ll turn our attention to a rural community in our state that is part of the California Community Schools Partnership Program. By capturing the process of creating and sustaining community schools in different contexts, we hope to inform others engaged in the challenging work of disrupting longstanding inequities. 

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

Marisa Saunders & Karen Hunter Quartz

Cover Art

The “Beautiful Struggle” mural featured on the cover of Issue 4 welcomes students to Oakland High School. It was painted by students in the Visual Arts and Academics Magnet Program (VAAMP) pathway in 2009. The mural features a beloved OHS art teacher, Ms. Broussard, and several historical figures including Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Frida Kahlo, Che Guevara, Bob Marley, Nelson Mandela, and the Dalai Lama.

Photo Credit: Russel Mondy