Book Author: Joyce Epstein et al.
The book, School, Family, and Community Partnerships Your Handbook for Action, is a comprehensive how-to guide for schools to use to cultivate productive partnerships with the community. Prior to reviewing this book, a reader might wonder why are community partnerships so vital to schools reform efforts? According to the text's author Joyce Epstein, "Community partnership activities can lead to measurable outcomes for students" (p. 34). The text presents a number of resources and materials for a school to use, to plan, and execute community (and parental) partnership initiatives. A shortened list of the materials offered by the book include: presentation materials for professional development sessions, group discussion activities, an example school survey on community and family participation, a rubric to measure a school's progress on partnership development, and a strategic planning matrix for schools to use for creating new partnership-related initiatives. School, Family, and Community is also accompanied by a corresponding CD-ROM that contains PDF copies of all of the resources and materials contained in the book.
The first chapter of School, Family, and Community,titled "A Comprehensive Framework,"presents the research behind what and how schools can cultivate involvement from parents and the community. The book argues that the factors that shape the ability of a school to maintain productive community partnerships and parental involvement are:
- presenting a clear commitment to learning;
- consistent administrative support of community and parental involvement;
- maintaining a welcoming school environment for all stakeholders;
- facilitating an open dialogue with parents and community partners about desires,expectations, and needs (Epstein, 2009).
The subsequent chapters of the book delve into these four areas in more detail. The resources and materials within the text are also organized to address the four areas, and provide practical tools to support implementation efforts.
The hallmarks of School, Family, and Community are its: readability, commonsense approach to the issues related to community and family, organization, and extensive number of resources to support schools throughout the planning and implementation process. This book would make an excellent resource for school leadership or planning teams that are thinking critically about how to start or expand community partnerships, and garner further buy-in from parents. However, this text should not be limited to school teams—it would be equally valuable to individual teachers looking to increase community, and parental involvement within their own classrooms.
Epstein, J., et al (2009). School, Family, and Community Partnerships, 3rd edition, Corwin Press.