Two partisan ESEA reauthorization bills unveiled in Senate, mixed bag for afterschool and summer learning
funds would still flow by formula to state education agencies that would then hold competitions at the state level. Partnerships of local education agencies (LEA) and public entities or non-profit organizations would be eligible to apply for funding, with either the LEA or the public entity or non-profit serving as the lead funded entity.
Graduation is around the corner for high school seniors across the country. This is often a time of reflection; reminiscing about the past four high school years—the friendships, relationships, lessons learned, teams, clubs, dances, classes and activities. But if we asked seniors to look back at their last four years and evaluate their learning experiences, how many of them would agree that they were engaging and relevant to their lives? How many would say they felt a sense of ownership and agency over their learning? How many would have a strong and supportive adult mentor to point to that guided them through their middle adolescent years?
A new report, “Realizing the Potential of Learning in Middle Adolescence,” by Drs. Robert Halpern of the Erikson Institute; Paul Heckman of the University of California, Davis; and Reed Larson of the University of Illinois emphasizes high schoolers’ enormous potential for learning if in the right learning environment, given the necessary supports and afforded specific opportunities for growth. Yet despite the research that shows middle adolescence—the period from ages 14 to 18—is the time when young people begin to develop advanced and complex forms of reasoning and analysis; increase their capacity to understand the dynamics of systems, institutions and individuals; and learn more about their interests, strengths, voice and beliefs, the authors find that a number of high schoolers are disengaged, bored at school, lack direction, and leave or drop out of high school without the skills they’ll need in the workplace.
Last week I attended the “Reimagining Education: Empowering Learning in a Connected World” summit and was inspired and moved by the dedication and passion expressed in the room to change the current educational circumstances of young people in our nation. Everyone in attendance was focused on the goal of making sure all youth are prepared for the unique challenges of our time, equipped with the knowledge, skills and support they need to succeed. It was impressive to hear thinking around creating a new ecosystem for learning that recognizes that learning takes place everywhere and makes it relevant to young people—drawing on their interests; connecting them to their peers and to mentors; and linking both interests and relationships to academics, career and community.
I was blown away, and in some cases a little starstruck, listening to speakers that included astronaut Leland Melvin, NBA All-Star and afterschool advocate Chris Paul, Howard University student and afterschool program graduate Marcus Prince, and Digital Youth Network founder and DePaul University Associate Professor Nichole Pinkard. I walked away from the two-day event excited about the possibilities and enthusiastic to further participate in reimagining education.
- Receive health and safety trainings in specific areas
- Comply with applicable state and local fire, health and building codes
- Receive comprehensive background checks (including fingerprinting)
- Receive on-site monitoring
It seems these days that if you’re keeping up with what’s happening in education, you can’t help but hear about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Last week, our vice president for policy and research, Jen Rinehart, wrote a stellar blog that not only walks you through what the Common Core State Standards are, but explains why they were developed, what they mean for education policy and the valuable role the afterschool field can play to support learning under the Common Core.
To keep up the Afterschool Alliance’s drumbeat of providing the afterschool field with helpful information connecting afterschool and the Common Core, I tuned in to “Leveraging Expanded Learning Opportunities to Support Common Core Implementation,” a webinar hosted by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and America’s Promise Alliance. The webinar featured Jenell Holsted, Ph.D. of University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, who discussed a recent brief, “Making the Connection: Next Generation Learning and Expanded Learning Opportunities,” and Sarah Cruz, director of expanded learning opportunities at the Statewide Network for New Jersey’s Afterschool Communities (NJSACC), who shared information about New Jersey’s statewide pilot training program that helps providers align their programming with the Common Core State Standards.
By Jen Rinehart
While volunteering in my daughter’s kindergarten classroom recently, I noticed a stack of kindergarten math workbooks that proudly advertised, “Aligned with the Common Core State Standards.” It was a clear sign that the Common Core standards have arrived in classrooms across the country and a reminder to me that the Afterschool Alliance can help afterschool providers better understand Common Core and what roles afterschool stakeholders can play in supporting learning under the Common Core.
So what are the Common Core State Standards? They are a set of standards in reading/language arts and math that resulted from several years of collective thinking by teachers, researchers and leading experts in the education field about what students should know and be able to do in mathematics and English language arts. Prior to the Common Core, most states had their own individual sets of standards.
Why do the Common Core State Standards exist? Proponents of Common Core argue that with the adoption of the standards, students who move from state to state, and especially students in military families who might make multiple moves in a K-12 career, will have a smoother transition because the schools in each state will be working from the same set of high expectations about what kids in each grade should be able to do. They also point out that states can share instructional resources like textbooks and even assessments, which are currently under development and expected to be rolled out during the 2013-2014 school year. As you might imagine, there are alsoeducation leaders who question the value of Common Core, particularly since the Common Core were not pilot tested prior to roll out to nearly all states, and who view Common Core and the related assessments as costly (both for the country and our children’s futures) experiments in learning.
The president recently released his budget request for FY2014 and we wrote about the implications for afterschool in a recent blog post. The budget proposes a sweeping (and unprecedented) reorganization of federal STEM education investments—it consolidates or restructures 114 programs out of the existing 226 federal STEM programs. In the budget proposal, 78 programs are terminated and the funds from these programs ($176 million dollars) are redirected to other agencies, 49 programs are consolidated within agencies and 13 new programs have been proposed.
The $176 million from the eliminated programs would be split as follows:
- $100.3 million to the Department of Education for K-12 education programs
- $51.1 million to the National Science Foundation for undergraduate education and fellowship programs
- $25 million to the Smithsonian Institution for a new STEM engagement initiative
There are several places to get the full details of the president’s budget request for STEM education—the White House R&D budget site and the American Institute of Physics FYI analysis are good places to start.
By Jodi Grant
This week I was in Kansas City as a keynote speaker for the 2013 Best Practices Forum on Dropout Prevention, hosted by the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network. I was thrilled to be a part of the event and share with the audience the many ways the afterschool field is helping our students come to school, stay in school and graduate. Afterschool programs are an instrumental part of any effort to help our students not only graduate from high school, but prepare them for lifelong success and help shape the adult he or she will become.
This is why I am so pleased with the newly released video (below) and guidebook by America’s Promise Alliance, “Expanding Learning, Expanding Opportunities.” Both the video and accompanying guidebook highlights the many ways expanded learning opportunities—including afterschool programs, summer learning programs, and expanded learning time—are providing our kids with opportunities to express themselves creatively, explore their interests and gain hands-on learning experiences they might not have during the school day. Also included are a variety of resources, such as research, best practices and toolkits to assist those interested in learning more about the out-of-school hours.