By Erin Murphy
|Image by Holger Selover-Stephan|
Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK) recently released the results of their 48th Annual PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools. This report, Why school? Americans speak out on education goals, standards, priorities and funding, identifies what Americans believe should be the primary goals of public education and what standards, priorities and funding should exist to support these goals.
The findings of the report suggest there is not a consensus on what the primary goal of public education should be. Only 45 percent of adult Americans believe that the main goal of education should be preparing students academically. Meanwhile, alternate views of public education are gaining popularity: 25 percent of Americans believe the goal of public education should be to prepare students for work, and 26 percent believe the goal should be to prepare students for citizenship. Additionally, respondents felt that the development of good work habits was a more important goal for schools than providing factual information.
This shift in the public attitude regarding the role of public education—toward success beyond academics—is reflected by the public’s preference for offering more career-technical or skills-based classes (68 percent) instead of more honors or advanced academic classes (21 percent). Afterschool has a long history of focusing on youth success beyond academics, reflecting and responding to Americans’ expanding desires for public education. Besides providing academic support—such as tutoring, homework help, and academic enrichment—programs are supporting students’ passions, introducing students to careers, and developing their 21st century skills. Because of this, afterschool is great a partner for the public school system in supporting education, growth and student success more broadly
By Erin Murphy
This blog was also published on LinkEngineering.
|Students from SHINE with their homemade robot. Image via @amjohnston|
Afterschool programs across the country are providing students with the opportunity to explore engineering activities and careers. According to America After 3PM, 10.2 million children (18 percent) currently participate in afterschool programs. Sixty-nine percent of parents said their child’s afterschool program offered STEM programming, and 30 percent said these programs offered engineering and technology activities. To do the math, this means that over 3 million students are receiving engineering programming in afterschool programs.
The flexibility of afterschool allows providers to make engineering activities engaging and well-suited for the needs of the community. Programs are choosing topics relevant to kids’ interests while leveraging community partners—including science museums, zoos and aquaria, universities and businesses—and engaging parents in the learning process.
We’d like to highlight three programs that are providing impressive opportunities and outcomes for the students and families they serve.
The SHINE After School Program, in Jim Thorpe, PA, exemplifies how rural programs can provide quality engineering education by using local resources and expertise. The program serves over 600 K-12 students and their families, with the majority of participants coming from low-income families and having special or remedial needs. In this program, 4th and 5th graders complete hands-on activities that focus on engineering, the health sciences and green energy, which introduces them to careers in those fields while improving their problem-solving skills. In middle school, students advance to a program held at a local technical center where they have access to Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and shop machinery. Working with college interns and high school mentors, middle school teams complete six engineering projects over the course of the academic year. One project is to build a “car of the future,” first designing the car in CAD, then cutting precision machined parts, and finally constructing the life-size derby car.
In a 2011-2012 evaluation, parents of middle school students observed an improvement in their children’s ability to use technology (86 percent) and in math skills (68 percent). Additionally, 95 percent of students in the middle school academy were excited about STEM careers, and 97 percent of 4th and 5th graders understood what an engineer does.
By Erin Murphy
A new report shows that high levels of participation in summer learning programs can provide positive benefits for low-income students’ math and language arts performance and social-emotional skills. Last week, The Wallace Foundation released Learning from Summer: Effects of Voluntary Summer Learning Programs on Low-Income Urban Youth, the third and final report analyzing the outcomes of their National Summer Learning Project.
This report, conducted by the RAND Corporation, is part of a six-year study offering the first-ever assessment of the effectiveness of voluntary, no-cost summer learning programs on the academic achievement, social-emotional competencies, and behavior of low-income, urban, elementary students. In fall 2013, third grade students enrolled in one of five urban school districts—Boston, Dallas, Jacksonville (FL), Pittsburgh, or Rochester (NY)—were selected to participate in the study. Half of the students were invited to participate in summer programming while half were not, and data on academic performance, social emotional skills, behavior and attendance was collected on both groups through the end of seventh grade.
Key findings on summer learning programs:
- Students who were “high-attenders”—those attending a summer program at least 20 days—saw near and long-term positive effects in math assessments throughout the study.
- High-attenders saw near and long-term positive effects in language arts assessments after the second summer of programming.
- High-attenders saw positive benefits for their social and emotional skills after the second summer of programming.
- When programs focused on math or language arts, students saw lasting positive gains in these subjects. Students who received a minimum of 25 hours of math instruction or 34 hours in language arts instruction during the summer outperformed students who did not receive the same level of instruction in the relevant subject in fall assessments. The report also found that the positive effects lasted into the spring after the second summer.
- Providing students an invitation to attend did not lead to substantial long-term benefits, because of high rates of non-participation and low-attendance rates.
|Infographic courtesy of the Wallace Foundation.|
By Erin Murphy
|A photo of the Philadelphia Police Athletic League (@phillypal1947) via the Afterschool Alliance on Instagram|
The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the third installment of the Afterschool & Law Enforcement blog series. Through interviews with police officers and public service officials, this post focuses on how afterschool programs and law enforcement partnerships help build relationships and trust between officers and members of the community. For more information on this topic, check out our previous blogs on motivations for partnerships and on the law enforcement caucus’ briefing on youth mentoring.
Partnerships between law enforcement and afterschool are playing an important role in building relationships and trust between police officers and their communities. For example, at the OK Program in Santa Barbara, CA, most students’ interactions with officers prior to their involvement in the program were through late night police calls in response to family or neighborhood disturbances. This trend allowed distrust to grow between youth and officers in their community—until the OK Program provided a way for beneficial relationships to develop.
The Corona Police Department in California had a similar experience, so the department began to look for a way to reach out to young people and give them more positive interactions with law enforcement. Partnering with afterschool programs was a natural way to do this. These partnerships allow officers to interact with youth in their community on a regular basis and support the work providers are already doing to keep kids safe and supported.
In the fledgling stages of these partnerships, many officers were met with reluctance and distrust. Most children and families in the Santa Ana Police Athletic and Activity League were intimidated by interacting with uniformed law enforcement officers, and Sergeant Ron Edwards of San Diego described the first time students met officers at their program as being similar to a high school dance, “except instead of girls and boys on either side of the room, it was youth and law enforcement.” Yet through these partnerships, officers and youth were able to break down barriers and develop strong bonds.
Here are some stories highlighting how officers worked with programs to build relationships and trust:
- The Massena, NY Police Department recently launched a program called “True Blue”, where uniformed police officers spend a minimum of 30 minutes each day interacting with youth, such as playing street hockey or basketball. They use daily interaction, because the more time youth and officers spend together the stronger their relationships become.
- Chief Fowler of the Syracuse, NY Police Department has partnered with and led afterschool programs for over 20 years. In his co-ed basketball program for teens, student teams were coached by officers. The students taught officers about basketball, and officers worked with students on team building and sportsmanship.
- In the Youth Advisory Group, a program started by the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, all meetings are focused on team-building between sheriff deputies and youth. They eat, talk, and complete activities together in each session. They also bring the group together to talk about law enforcement and experiment with role playing, allowing both youth and law enforcement to better understand where the other is coming from.
By Erin Murphy
A new white paper from the nationally-recognized STEM education provider Techbridge calls for a more sophisticated approach to engaging girls in STEM. Across the U.S., girls are growing up in cities and regions bustling with innovation, yet many do not consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) due to lack of encouragement and opportunity. Meanwhile, STEM jobs are growing at an unprecedented rate, and companies are scrambling to build diversity in their workforce. Closing the opportunity gap for girls, especially for girls of color, will open up a tremendous untapped pool of talent.
Disappointingly, many previous and ongoing efforts to engage girls and minorities in STEM have had a hard time moving the needle. This paper draws upon Techbridge’s 16 years of experience in successfully improving outcomes for girls in STEM, as well as interviews from STEM education leaders in order to spotlight the most effective ways to foster diversity and inclusion in the workforce. The paper reveals two broad strategies to engineer a revolution in STEM diversity:
- Design with diverse girls and communities in mind. Make sure to understand who will be in your program and customize programming and curriculum. Girls from different communities will have different wants and needs. Program designers should listen to the voices from the communities they serve.
- Strengthen the girl-centric ecosystem. There are many factors that will influence the likelihood of girls to pursue STEM, so building strong community partnerships is key. Embrace an ecosystem approach and build partnerships between programs and families. Additionally, build relationships between programs and STEM industries to train female role models who can work with girls.
By Erin Murphy
Girls Who Code is actively working to create a world in which men and women are represented equally in the ever-important technology industry. This year, Girls Who Code is looking to scale-up efforts through their afterschool clubs program. You can apply to be an official host site, and access free curriculum, teaching resources and support from Girls Who Code!
What is a Girls Who Code Club?
In a Girls Who Code Club, 6th to 12th grade girls explore coding in a fun and friendly environment. Students learn core computer science concepts through projects based on their interests, such as music, art or games. The curriculum is designed for students with varying experience levels, with lessons for students with zero coding experience or lessons that introduce college-level concepts. Field trips and guest speakers compliment the curriculum by demonstrating how these skills can be applied in the future. Additionally, this program provides girls a supportive community. They become part of a diverse sisterhood while gaining many female role models who are working at the world’s leading engineering and tech companies.
Become part of the movement
To get girls coding in your community, you can to host a club in either Fall 2016 or Spring 2017. All you need are computers, internet access, a facilitator (two is even better), and (of course) girls in 6th to 12th grade.
The lead facilitator can be an afterschool program employee or a community volunteer like a college student majoring in computer science or a tech industry professional. However, for the Fall 2016 session, the facilitator must have knowledge of programming fundamentals such as loops, conditionals, and functions. In Spring 2017, a newly-released curriculum will support non-technical facilitators, i.e. afterschool educators without prior knowledge of programming. If you need to recruit a tech-capable facilitator, here are some helpful resources:
- Fall facilitator requirements flyer
- Clubs recruitment kit
- Facilitator info session slide deck
- 2016 clubs facilitator info session guide
If you are still having trouble finding someone to facilitate, Girls Who Code can help out! Just indicate this on your application.
By Erin Murphy
The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the second installment of the new Afterschool & Law Enforcement blog series. Through interviews with police officers and public service officials, this post focuses on the motivations that lead afterschool programs and law enforcement agencies to work together.
|The New York State Sheriff Association's Sheriffs' Camp summer program|
Across the nation, law enforcement and afterschool programs are partnering up to keep children safe and support working families. Juvenile interaction with law enforcement and victimization peak between 3 and 6 p.m., the hours after school before parents get home from work. Finding care for children during this time can be challenging for families, especially for working single parents.
Officer Kenney Aguilar of the Santa Ana Police Department described how many law enforcement departments recognize afterschool programs as the perfect partner in keeping communities safe. “Afterschool programs provide a safe haven for children to focus on academics,” he said. “These programs also keep kids off of the streets and away from the gangs that plague the neighborhoods.”
Rene Fiechter, Assistant District Attorney of Nassau County (NY), noted the role of afterschool in a community initiative to help single moms. “Affordable afterschool became a large necessity to achieve the goals of that initiative,” he said.
Additionally, working with afterschool programs provides an opportunity for law enforcement departments to build relationships, trust and understanding with community youth. Besides giving kids a safe place to learn in the summer, The Sheriffs' Institute in New York hopes to “encourage kids to see law enforcement as a friend and not an enemy,” said Chris O’Brien, executive director of the institute.
Darren Grimshaw, a major at the Burlington (IA) Police Department, has similarly seen his department’s partnership with an afterschool program transform the relationship of law enforcement and the local community. Participants in the program frequently say hello to officers and share their positive experiences with friends and family.
These partnerships between afterschool and law enforcement vary dramatically depending on the needs of the community and the capacity of the police department. Some departments provide funding for afterschool programs, while others run their own afterschool programs and camps.
By Erin Murphy
The Afterschool Alliance is excited to announce a new blog series focusing on law enforcement and afterschool partnerships. As juvenile justice reform gains more attention from the afterschool field, the Afterschool & Law Enforcement series highlights how the out-of-school time field is partnering with police to keep kids out of jail and strengthen communities. Throughout the rest of the year, we will be sharing themed blogs that highlight many aspects of these partnerships, such as motivations for partnering, building relationships, highlights from city-systems, outcomes and recommendations for getting started. Additionally, we will share stories from some of our favorite partnerships as part of the Afterschool Spotlight series.
In this first blog of the series, we will go deep on one component of many afterschool programs: mentoring. While common in many programs, mentoring seems to be especially prevalent in programs that focus on fostering stronger police & youth relations. Last week, the U.S. Senate law enforcement caucus recognized the importance of mentoring by hosting a Congressional briefing on youth mentoring. The goal was to discuss the role law enforcement can play in mentoring youth and share examples of law enforcement initiatives that have led to successful youth mentoring programs in their communities.
Chief Jim Bueermann, President, Police Foundation. While working at the Redlands Police Department, Chief Bueermann developed a mentoring program that supported high schoolers in exploring law enforcement careers and becoming officers.
Donald Northcross, Founder, OK Program. Northcross developed the OK Program in 1990 while working as a Deputy Sheriff at the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. This is a mentoring and leadership program where law enforcement officers partner with African-American men to support African-American boys.
Orrin White, Assistant Director of Community Engagement, United Way of Delaware. Inspired by challenges African-American youth faced throughout Delaware, White initiated We are the Why. This program allowed youth to work with officers to learn about law enforcement, discuss issues in their communities, and develop ways to improve law enforcement-community relations.
These speakers shared their knowledge and experiences related to program development and gaining community support. and the amazing outcomes these programs provide students, officers and their community. They also highlighted outcomes of their partnerships and provided recommendations for building and maintaining strong partnerships.
|"These programs helped destroy prejudices youth held against cops and cops held against youth."|
- The most significant outcome of these programs was the development of relationships between participating youth and law enforcement. These programs helped destroy prejudices youth held against cops and cops held against youth. Northcross shared how relationships transformed through the OK Program. “At the beginning there is tension in the room when officers enter, but by the end youth are high-fiving and hugging officers.”
- Both youth and officers gained new insight on how to interact in the community to reduce misunderstanding and distrust. White emphasized this, stating, “it’s important that officers are able to see how they are perceived by the community and learn from this.”
- In established programs, youth participants are graduating high school and giving back to their communities directly—with many youth even becoming officers themselves.