Cincinnati Community Schools Update


The success of the Cincinnati Community schools has brought positive national attention to the Cincinnati Public Schools. The most exciting news from Cincinnati is how high the graduation rate has climbed, from 51% to 82%.  The Urban Teachers Federation (UTF) reports, “the district has moved from academic emergency to “academic watch” to “continuous improvement” to “effective” as of 2010, the only urban district in the state with that distinction.” These great changes have been accredited to the adoption of community schools, full service schools that provide a range of resources for students, both academic and health related. For example, the UTF also notes that 49 of Cincinnati’s 55 public schools have two mental health clinicians on school premises.

Started in 2001, the Cincinnati Community Learning Centers (CLCs) seek to “support student achievement, revitalize neighborhoods and maximize the community’s return on their financial investments…providing access for students, families and community to health, safety and social services, as well as recreational, educational and cultural opportunities.” The Cincinnati model has been described as a “cradle to career” educational support system.
Urban school districts like New York, Knoxville, Los Angeles and Washington have mulled over the implementation of community schools in their districts. The success of Cincinnati may be replicable, but implementing these systems may take time. Community schools ideologies have been adopted by successful private charter enterprises, in example Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) and the Harlem Children’s Zone. Both provide additional and remedial support services to promote a more holistic methodology of learning to children.
So what does this mean for schools in Washington, DC?  The good news is that DC VOICE, a community-based organization, has researched and promoted the development of community schools here in DC. The City Council passed legislation to establish at least five community schools, and allotted $1 million in the 2013 budget for building community schools.  The Mayor has placed the responsibility for implementing this initiative in the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE).  The bad news is that progress has stalled and the legislatively mandated Community Schools Advisory Committee that will plan and oversee implementation has not yet convened. The good news is that the Office of Boards and Commissions (OBC) has begun soliciting membership on this Committee and reports being in the final stages of identifying the Committee's full membership.   OSSE is working with the OBC to have appointments made as soon as possible, so the Community Schools Advisory Committee can convene.
DC VOICE will continue to press for action to establish Community Schools here.  The Cincinnati story shows not only that it can be done, but that that approach to education makes a great difference in how well schools perform and how well children achieve.  We’ve come too far to stop now.
Voice your support for community schools through DC VOICE. Tweet your opinions to @DCVOICE, “Like” DCVOICE on Facebook or send us an email at! To find out more about DC VOICE and how to get involved, visit our involvement page on our website,!


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