Earlier this month, the Annenberg Institute for School Reform announced the formation of the Center for Education Organizing. This is how they describe their purpose:
…the center will focus on providing policy and strategic support to community organizations that increases the capacity of low- to moderate-income parents and students of color to lead and participate in the process of transforming America’s urban schools. It will concentrate on strengthening relationships among and between education organizing and civil rights groups, advocacy organizations, reform support organizations, and education researchers, as well as exploring ways to facilitate alliance building between community groups and teacher unions. Furthermore, it will help build a strong research-based policy agenda for reform that reflects the community’s aspirations.
You can read more about the new center here.
Annenberg has done some excellent work in this area. Organized Communities, Stronger Schools is THE study on how community organizing can be an effective strategy with schools, and I cite it often in my book and on this blog. And, of course, Anne Henderson is THE researcher on parent engagement efforts, and works closely with Annenberg.
Even with that “street cred,” I have to admit I’m a little wary of this new undertaking (and I recognize that there may be a lot about it I just don’t know). During my nineteen year community organizing career, it was not unusual to see “technical assistance” groups of varying quality suck-up foundation money that might ordinarily be available for grass-roots organizing. With a fair number of already high-quality progressive education “think tanks,” I’m not sure another one is needed. And I wonder how they’re going to determine which community organizing groups are more “astroturf” (like Parent Revolution) than “grass-roots.”
It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out…