Yesterday the Ford Foundation and the National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL) held a press conference in Washington, D.C., to announce that about 40 public schools in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee will significantly expand and redesign their school calendars starting in 2013 in an effort to help close the opportunity gap.
- Colorado: Denver, Boulder Valley, Jefferson County, Adams 50
- Connecticut: East Hartford, Meriden, New London
- Massachusetts: Fall River, Lawrence
- New York: Rochester
- Tennessee: Achievement School District (Memphis) and Metro Nashville
According to the Ford Foundation’s press release, community organizations, teachers unions and local businesses will play a key role in the collaborative effort, helping the schools to rethink their schedules and find creative ways to cost-effectively add learning time. Additionally, the school planning teams are encouraged to develop an expanded-time schedule that provides a rigorous, well-rounded curriculum for all students; offers individualized help for students who are struggling; uses data and technology to inform and improve instruction; improves collaboration among teachers; provides enrichment opportunities in the arts, music and other areas critical to development; and promotes a culture of high achievement.
The Ford Foundation’s support for “more and better” expanded learning is a welcome complement to our ongoing work to ensure that all children have access to quality expanded learning opportunities. The initiative’s focus on hands-on, experiential learning; community based organizations as partners; and individualized learning is heartening to see and draws heavily from the lessons learned by the afterschool community. With an established evidence base and impressive track record of inspiring student learning, helping working families and keeping young people safe; quality afterschool and summer learning programs serve as an excellent model for new expanded learning initiatives that add time to the school day or school year.