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Rethinking District-Community Partnerships

**Simmons, W. (2007, Fall). Building a foundation for smart education systems. Voices in Urban Education, 17, 5-12. Available at

This article proposes reimagining the boundaries of the traditional school district by creating “smart education systems”. These new systems are alliances between schools, neighborhood-based education support systems, citywide agencies, nonprofits, cultural institutions, and businesses that would provide for the academic, social, cultural, and physical needs of all students.  The article also discusses the infrastructure requirements required to build smart education systems.  These include skilled cross-sector leadership, applied research grounded in the context of local communities and implementation challenges, and governance structures that support cross-sector collaboration.

Warren, M. R. (2007, Fall). Partners for change: Public schools and community-based organizations. Voices in Urban Education, 17, 44-52. Available at

Traditionally, schools and communities feel isolated from one another. In this article, the author explains how to overcome this isolation and foster meaningful partnerships to sustain educational improvement. One strategy is for community-based organizations to act as intermediaries—providing schools with insight into the strengths of a community and expertise in serving the needs of low-income families. Such partnerships require distributed leadership, trust, and collaboration among school staff and community members. Political, social, and cultural conditions—such as confronting power differentials across groups—must also be addressed to ensure that community services reach those they are intended to serve. Furthermore, the author argues that partnerships that go beyond individual schools to the district level can help address school and community inequities through allocation of district funds.