Diane Friedlaender and Kenneth Montgomery take a look at EnCompass' unique educational philosophy, which bases the school's culture and instructional program on “four life spirals.”
This case study is one of six conducted for the report, Oakland Unified School District: New Small Schools Initiative Evaluation.
EnCompass Academy is located in East Oakland, which many describe as a high needs area plagued by violence. The community has also experienced profound demographic changes, as the neighborhood has shifted from a predominantly African American community to a Latino, mostly Mexican, community.
In the beginning there was much community mistrust around the new school, but this dissipated through the work of school staff and the district’s commitment to build a new state-of-the-art facility in the traditionally underserved East Oakland community. The facility made a powerful statement about the district’s commitment to serving East Oakland and the importance of the school’s success.
EnCompass Academy opened in 2004 in portable classrooms on the Webster Academy campus in the community of East Oakland. Since its opening, EnCompass has implemented a unique approach to education, grounded in “the four life spirals” (see Appendix A). The life spirals elements are: Power of Knowledge, Power of Right Action, Power of Courage, and the Power of Stillness. These elements have served as the basis for a school culture and an instructional program that have made considerable progress in improving the academic outcomes of its students.
A new book, Global Education Reform: How Privatization and Public Investment Influence Education Outcomes, provides a powerful analysis of these different ends of an ideological spectrum – from market-based experiments to strong state investments in public education.