School-Linked Services: Promoting Equity for Children, Families, and Communities by Laura Bronstein and Susan Mason

7. Public Education School-Linked Services and Relevant Policies

  • In 1965, Congress passed the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act (ESEA). It provided compensatory funds for poor schools. It has been reauthorized several times since. The changes have notably added required standardized testing with consequences for schools that perform poorly. The biggest change came in 2002 with No Child Left Behind (NCLB) which added a lot more testing (still in place) and consequences along with unrealistic expectations. This chapter contains summaries of the various iterations of the ESEA.
  • The ESEA offers block grant funding for poor schools and a number of grant opportunities. Any school without access to a skilled grant writer is at a big disadvantage. The federal government provides an average of about 10% of school district funding. Schools, therefore, can ill afford not to follow federal policy. Fortunately, the ESEA does encourage community schools, and schools can use their ESEA funds to that end. Policies not dictated by the federal government are put in place by states and school districts. Some states promote community schools with policy and funds. Other funding and support come from organizations and private donors. Two exemplary organizations are summarized here, along with a link to a third’s website.

8. Funding

  • Schools get most of their funding from a mix of federal, state, and local property tax sources. The smallest of these is usually federal funding, which in many districts represents about 10% of the annual budget. These funds are needs-based, so poor districts will get significantly more. While some state funding prioritizes poor districts, in most cases, there is less of a bias than in federal funding. When it comes to property taxes, wealthier districts have a big advantage, and as a result, they spend much more per student than poor districts can afford.
  • Minor sources of funding come from non-profit organizations, foundations, universities, businesses, and private donors. There are a host of grant opportunities that districts can compete or apply for. They should be used to jump start a program rather than for reoccurring operational costs, as grant sources tend to come and go. Some specific grants are mentioned here, along with the names of major foundations. Ideally, multiple organizations can collaborate using their combined ongoing funds while using grants to fund the innovation process. Funding has a political component, so you need people on your team to get involved politically.

9. Assessing Outcomes

  • The most used approach for assessing academic achievement are the standardized tests required by the various iterations of the ESEA. (Doug: If you search this blog for “testing,” you will find many articles and book summaries that are highly critical of such tests.) These tests do not allow for differentiation or differences in curriculum and have many other problems. Other metrics in use are attendance, grades, graduation rate, college acceptance, and community service.
  • Community-based schools do, however, score higher on these tests and the other metrics than non-community-based schools with comparable demographics. Such schools also do better with on-task learning behavior, time management, goal setting, problem-solving, attendance, suspensions, motivation, self-efficacy, and decreased violence.

Epilogue: Creating a Successful School-Community Partnership for School-Linked Services

  • Here, you will find the steps to take if you want to start the process of creating a school-community partnership to link services. The authors also offer additional resources for getting started. Although this book has a 2016 copyright, I find that it’s still an outstanding resource for anyone who wants to do more for school-age children and their community in general.

Laura Bronstein and Susan Mason

  • Laura is dean of the College of Community and Public Affairs, professor of social work, executive director of the Institute for Justice & Well-Being and Founding Director of Binghamton University Community Schools at Binghamton University, State University of New York. Her email is
  • Susan is a professor of social work and sociology and director of the PhD program in social welfare at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University.

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