September 2003 — Volume 7, Number 2
Elsa Auerbach (Ed.) (2002)
Pp. vii + 186
ISBN 0-939791-99-4 (paper)
$29.95 (member $24.95)
Community Partnerships is an interesting collection of twelve case study chapters and overview chapter edited by Elsa Auerbach. The articles tell about successful collaborations between schools and universities, community groups, and government departments in five countries. This book is part of TESOL’s Case Studies in TESOL Practice Series. This series describes twenty teaching contexts, the contexts’ issues and demands, and practical suggestions for addressing these situations.
Community Partnerships is not divided into sections, but the articles follow the general outline of introduction, context, description, distinguishing features, practical ideas and conclusion. Appendices follow some articles; contributors are identified in all. There is a very useful index and bibliography at the end of the book.
The first chapter, written by the editor, “Shifting Roles, Shifting Goals: Integrating Language, Culture and Community”, highlights the general themes in the book. One major thread is that although most of the program goals described in the book began as promoting ESOL or literacy, they usually ended focusing on promoting community activity and changing as the context determined. Another theme is individual programs didn’t follow the traditional models given by policy makers and funding agencies, but changed according to specific circumstances. As a result, these programs were organic, growing and flourishing because of the trust and engagement fostered in the communities and by meeting and resolving the unexpected challenges. A final theme is that these programs’ evaluation methods resulting in reframing successful involvement by not only using the traditional test score, literacy level, or proficiency gains, but how much the participants strengthened their communities and were strengthened as a result of these programs.
The next four chapters’ descriptions are from the United States. In Chapter 2, “Even I Would Like to Be Bilingual: Parents Learning English at Their Children’s School, Julia Menard-Warwick describes adult ESL family literacy classes offered in an elementary school without the usual state funding support. She frames it within the parameters of California’s restrictive Proposition 227 regulations, parental involvement, and the sometimes conflicting agendas and goals of the funding agencies, teachers, administrators and students. This article has excellent ideas for classroom activities and tips for running a program in its Distinguishing Characteristics and Practical Suggestions sections. [-1-]
In the third chapter, “Start With What They Know, Build With What They Have: Survival Skills for Refugee Women”, Genevieve Fridland and Teresa Dalle describe a program for Somali women resettled in the US. This program had four community organizations that joined together to provide these students with basic social, cultural, and language needs. This article used an observational journal created by the authors to provide a record and insights about what happened in the class and how the students became involved in their own learning. In the chapter’s Description section a very useful and insightful subsection entitled Taking Charge of Their Own Learning outlines when these learners became most engaged in taking charge of their learning.
Solange A. Lopes-Murphy and Doris Martin write about a program which included Community Service Learning, pre-service teachers and ESL students in Chapter 4. This program involved pre-service teachers doing community service teaching in five different situations near James Madison University, Virginia, a university with a strong commitment to community service. Their pre-service teachers gained invaluable experience teaching diverse learners of a second language and these learners in turn benefited by learning concepts needed for schools, learning about the workplace, and parents’ learning about US schools and their child’s learning processes. In future, they want to focus on more opportunities to involve children’s parents more in the program.
In the next chapter, “Collisions on the Road to Citizenship: Thanks to God I Passed”, Gail Weinstein, Anne Whiteside, and Nina Gibson divide up describing Students Helping in the Naturalization of Elders (SHINE), a collaboration between City College of San Francisco and San Francisco State University. Fifty students from each institution were placed into classes to provide one-on-one or small-group coaching for older learners. This program has benefited all participants, faculty of the two institutions, the coaches, the students, and the citizenship and ESL teachers. The Distinguishing Features section gives a short but interesting description of the tensions of expectations and realities, class and status differences, culture differences, intergenerational differences, and ethnic group differences and how these impacted the student coaches.
The next four chapters tell about programs in New Zealand, England, Canada and Soweto. In Chapter 6, Marilyn Lewis, Therese O’Connell, and Grace Bassett describe how a voluntary organization which provided English language support in the home collaborated with the city council and local recreation organizations. In this program, students in their social English groups chose to participate in seven recreation programs. This collaboration enabled learners to use English for meaning rather than form, enhanced more confidence in speaking, facilitated involvement in the community, and enabled the participants to have time with their children in an educational setting.
In Chapter 7, Jawaheir Elmi, Margaret Folarin, Ahmed Moalin, and Shan Rees describe a four-year project, Working With Somali Families, and how it favorably impacted the families in a poor section of London. This program showed how home sessions, a football club, a Saturday school, a homework club, and in-school sessions aided in helping the students for motivation and improved behavior, socializing skills, listening ability and concentration, and overall school achievement. The Practical Ideas section of the chapter gives excellent suggestions of how this project succeeded.
In Chapter 8, “Building Culture and Community: Family and Community Literacy Partnerships in Canada’s North”, Kim Crockett and Suzanne Smythe outline an intergenerational learning program in collaboration with six other community organizations that strengthened ties between elders and youth, transmitted oral history, and promoted biliteracy in a small, isolated village above the Artic Circle in Nunavut. How this program collaborated and formed effective a community literacy program is valuable for others becoming involved in such collaborations. [-2-]
Letta Mashishi, in Chapter 9 “Using a Community-Based Curriculum to Promote Literacy in Soweto”, describes the Parents’ and Schools’ Learning Clubs (PSLC) program, and its building collaborations strengthening families, schools, and communities in South Africa. This program succeeded in promoting a culture of learning in African families which was crippled by past apartheid policies. This chapter outlines this program’s methods, stakeholder roles, and suggestions for implementation. This program was justifiably awarded a presidential award for its efforts in reviving the culture of learning.
The next three chapters describe three programs in the United States, and the final chapter describes a program in South Africa. In Chapter 10, Ana Huerta-Macias describes a unified literacy program in the Borderlands area in Texas in “Getting an Even Start: Family Literacy Through Participation and Collaboration”. This program was a collaboration between more than 20 community agencies, groups or individuals with Even Start and provided a literacy program integrating parenting, adult education, home visits and early childhood education. The approach was shaped by the participants by choice of site, program staff mirroring the participants’ cultural makeup, and dynamic curriculum development. The program was unusually successful because it involved the participants in program implementation, allowed for varying levels of participation, had flexibility and communication with secondary and primary collaborations, and had family as a primary focus.
Dick Keis describes a home-school-community partnership in Oregon in Chapter 11, “Building Community With Books” The Libros y Familias Program.” This program built on the strengths and talents of Latino families to further the parents and their children’s literacy development: their valuing education, their first language, and their life experience to share with their children. Two very successful parts of this program were bringing Latino artists and children’s books authors to work with the families and having parents’ writing published.
In Chapter 12, “Creative Acts, Critical Insights: Adult Writing Workshops in Two Chicago Neighborhoods,” describes two partnerships with a higher educational institution and an employment training program and a parent education program.
This article outlines how this program went from workshop to a publication and gives excellent practical ideas for managing the workshops.
In the final chapter, “Wild Power: School-Community Partnerships in a South African School District:, Andrew Schofield describes a school district which facilitated education reconstruction and community development required because of neglect and destruction caused on the community by apartheid. This program improved the material conditions of the participants and through discussion, dialogue, planning and action leading to unpredictable and diverse projects which formed a new beginning for school-community development.
This book is highly recommended for teachers, administrators, and funding agencies. This is because it demonstrates clearly what cooperation and hard work can do to strengthen communities and gives a plethora of proven ideas easily adaptable to other situations.
Utah State University
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