Lifelong Educator Paulette Chaffee Discusses California's New Community Schools Program

Lifelong educator Paulette Chaffee says that California is embarking on a $3 billion program to create community schools in low-income areas that will take a holistic approach to education by integrating social and emotional learning.

FULLERTON, CA, Sept. 20, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- California public schools in low-income regions are being converted to centers of community life, providing what are known as "wraparound services" to the youngest students in need.

Lifelong educator Paulette Chaffee points out that while California won't be the first state to embark on a community schools effort, it will feature the most considerable undertaking so far. States such as Maryland and New York have invested in community schools recently, but California is putting $3 billion toward the effort.

The California Community Schools Partnership Program will aim to transform current elementary schools so they can address the multiple learning and health needs of all children who attend. It will be a much more holistic approach to education, which studies have shown creates optimal conditions so children can thrive academically and emotionally.

During the program's first round, 192 school districts, charter schools, and county offices of education will be distributed $200,000 in funding for planning grants. Another 73 districts with pre-existing community schools will also receive grants to help them implement programs.
As Paulette Chaffee says, schools that have at least 80% of students coming from low-income households will be prioritized for funding.

The new community schools program will feed into the already-existing preschool and transitional kindergarten (TK) program. The TK program helps to bridge the gap between preschool and kindergarten schooling, helping students to build a strong foundation for future success in school.

It's a natural tie-in with the new Community Schools Partnership Program because the TK program already blends emotional and social experiences with academics. As a lifelong educator, Paulette Chaffee knows how important it is to care for the entire child, which is what this community schools program will do.

To accomplish the goal, community schools will connect with community and government services and build trust with the families and students they serve. The schools were first created in conjunction with the federal government and other foundations through a program called the 21st Century Learning Centers.

The California version is working to create a statewide system that's coherent so that all schools will be able to tie in common elements as well as commitments to the program. The state board of education has already adopted a framework for community schools, which outlines what would make a community school successful.

By establishing this framework, Paulette Chaffee says that the community schools will be able to address more clearly the program's important practices and educational strategies, as well as the "cornerstone commitments" as laid out by the California Department of Education.

Paulette Chaffee earned both her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in communicative disorders from the University of Redlands and has received the California Lifetime Teaching Credential.
She worked in public schools as both a teacher and a speech therapist and has worked as a speech therapist in hospitals and clinics as well.

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Educator Paulette Chaffee
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Paulette Chaffee