Perseverance and Progress in Petaluma, California

Harvey Chipkin & Hershel Sarbin
March 14, 2011

Tough times don't need to be the end of effective interventions. Despite
budget setbacks that were too much for many local programs, one community in California persisted in reducing
by 47 percent the number of students suspended for disciplinary problems in secondary schools.  Child Advocacy360
reports on the key take-aways from Petaluma, Calif.

Background: As part of a Ready by 21 Challenge, the community of Petaluma, California, (pop. 70,000) brought together what had been a fragmented array of public agencies, organizations and community members -- parents, teachers, students -- to develop a comprehensive plan for school reform.

In the face of a dismal state budget and cuts to educational funding, Petaluma's local leaders didn't give up. Instead they fought to safeguard the work, building on the connections that now existed. They made it easier for the community to engage with schools, including a formal system for parent involvement and organized efforts around school climate and violence. One year later, the county has seen a 47 percent drop in the number of school suspensions for disciplinary problems, among other achievements.

Child Advocacy 360 interviewed staff who were involved to learn about the "secrets of Petaluma's success." Click the link below for the full Child Advocacy 360 scorecard.

Stay tuned! If Child Advocacy 360's bullet points whet your
appetite for more on this story, the Forum for Youth Investment (which
manages SparkAction) will release a case study on Petaluma in May 2011.