Learning Community programs for elementary school students get better results every year. That's what the Nebraska legislature intended when it created Nebraska’s first political subdivision for education. In just three years, the Learning Community is making a difference for children and their families, especially those facing the challenges of poverty.
The vote to establish the Learning Community in 2007 capped years of division over local school district boundaries. By creating the Learning Community around common goals to address the growing achievement gap, the Legislature saw a “visionary resource,” acting in the best interests of all children.
Before the founding Council could start down a visionary road, it needed a road map. It created the organizational structure from scratch. After taking office, the Council successfully launched Open Enrollment, giving families choice in education. Just three years later, participation is growing with 6 percent of Learning Community students open enrolled. Even better, children from lower-income families are open enrolled on an equal basis.
Council members completed community needs assessments and listened to people from neighborhoods all over the city. As a result, the Learning Community established the first in-school family liaison program to help elementary students in academic trouble. The Council balanced the costly investment against growing evidence that struggling children were falling behind their classmates with little chance of catching up. The same year, the Learning Community launched successful after school, summer school, and kindergarten jump start pilot programs to help more than 8000 elementary students struggling to keep pace with their classmates.
The next year, the Learning Community launched family literacy programs in the new Learning Community Center of South Omaha, temporarily housed in the Juan Diego building. Elementary extended learning programs expanded again to serve more than 7,300 kids and Learning Community Family Liaisons expanded from 12 to16 elementary schools to reach students living in extreme poverty.
The Coordinating Council began 2012 studying a growing body of local evidence pointing towards early intervention in a child’s life, and the power of quality early childhood education.
After extensive research by Subcouncil Two members, the Council’s first step was to fund an extension of groundbreaking community-based research through the University of Nebraska Medical Center Connections project. By working with mothers, infants, and a network of volunteer moms, the Learning Community is exploring new, educational strategies to improve early language development critical to later reading student achievement for children living in the most extreme poverty.
December 2012: A Turning Point
The year ended with independent evaluations confirming that Learning Community elementary programs help students make significant academic gains.
You're always welcome to attend council meetings! Our next meeting is
Stay up-to-date with the latest Learning Community news by signing up for the Learning Community Link e-newsletter here.
Check out the map and find your subcouncil.
With 11 member school districts, we really can "share our learning."