Resources for Connecting Schools and Communities

Published in SEDL Letter Volume XII, Number 1, May 2000, Putting the Public back into Public Schools

Public Deliberation: A Tool for Connecting School Reform and Diversity and La deliberación pública: Una forma de enlazar la reforma escolar con la diversidad cultural

"Deliberation is people talking and learning together" say the authors of Public Deliberation: A Tool for Connecting School Reform and Diversity. Public deliberation, then, might be defined as talking and learning together about issues of common concern which affect more than any one single individual. This goal of public deliberation is not only consensus building or decision making but also a greater understanding of and respect for diverse views. This publication discusses various processes of public deliberation in regard to school reform and diversity issues and includes descriptions of various dialogue formats, as well as contact information for five national organizations that can help communities in the public deliberation process.

Public Deliberation: A Tool for Connecting School Reform and Diversity and the Spanish-language version, La deliberación pública.

Public Deliberation was compiled by Suzanne Ashby, Cris Garza, and Maggie Rivas. (1998). Austin, Texas: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. 39 pp. Victor J. Rodriguez translated the Spanish version.

Calling the Roll: Study Circles for Better Schools

This video tells the story of a SEDL partnership of the same name that examined how 15 communities in Arkansas and Oklahoma conducted small-group dialogues, or study circles, on education. State and local policymakers, organizers, educators, community members, and students discuss their experiences as participants and how they changed their ideas about education and education policymaking. The videotape provides information about the study circle model of dialogue and what it offers community members, schools staffs, policymakers, and others who are interested in using this dialogue process to inform education policymaking.

Calling the Roll: Study Circles for Better Schools is available to view online at:

Julia Guzman and Sue Mutchler were content consultants for this videotape, and Joyce Pollard was executive producer. It was produced by EDF Productions for SEDL. Runtime: 18 minutes, 45 seconds.


Insights on Education Policy, Research, and Practice

Insights is a series of policy briefings that address current or emerging issues of importance to policymakers and policy analysts in SEDL's five-state region. The two most recent issues of Insights focus on deliberative dialogue. Insights may be found online at

Education: How Can Schools and Communities Work Together to Meet the Challenge?

This guide features strategies to involve community members in discussions about their schools and how they can support their schools. The guide provides the basics for a discussion program of four to seven sessions and includes how-to information for discussion organizers, leaders, and participants. It also highlights experiences of five successful schools and communities.

Education: How Can Schools and Communities Work Together was written by Matthew Leighninger and Mark Niedergang and published by the Study Circles Resource Center in Pomfret, Conn.. It is available online at or may be ordered by calling 860-928-2616.

Is There a Public for Public Schools?

Published by the Kettering Foundation, this book looks at the fraying relationship between Americans and their public schools. Author David Mathews concludes that it is unlikely that schools will make lasting improvements unless communities change and citizens increase their capacity to act as a cohesive group. The book provides long-term strategies and practices that can help reconnect schools and the communities they serve and ensure that a community has an engaged citizenry.

Is There a Public for Public Schools was written by Kettering Foundation president David Mathews.

Reasons for Hope, Voices for Change

This Annenberg Institute for School Reform publication was released in March 1998. It offers a look at initiatives that have sprung up across the country to build citizen involvement and support for school change. The book discusses the definition of public engagement and the challenges and opportunities it presents and examines how communities and schools are proving that a more diverse constituency can empower and sustain school reform.

Reasons for Hope, Voices for Change may be found online at

The Millennium Communications Group prepared Reasons for Hope for the Annenberg Institute of School Reform.

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