The November 2011 Phi Delta Kappan features an article by Pedro A. Noguera that talks about a school-in-community approach to helping students in poverty succeed. I enourage people to use that article and the accompanying discussion guide prepared by Lois Brown Easton to consider how they can combine school and community efforts to improve student learning. (You can access a PDF version of the article at http://www.kappanmagazine.org/content/93/3/8.full.pdf+html .
Noguera rejects the notion that success can be obtained by simply improving the quality of teaches without attacking the influences of poverty on learning. He notes that children in poverty lack the external support, are hampered by environmental obstacles, and are victimized by negative social capital within their communities that undermine the ability of parents to influence what is happening in schools.
He focuses much of his article on the "Broader, Bolder Approach" being used in Newark with support from three foundations. Othere cities are experimenting with similar models.
Poverty and other social conditions are clearly related to children't scuccess. Communities need to take the initiative and combine efforts to improve the conditions affecting the lives of children if they are going to improve what students learn.