The Expanding Minds and Opportunities compendium highlights persuasive evidence on the effectiveness of expanded learning (afterschool, summer, inter-session, etc.) opportunities. In one article, the authors state:
“…Quality afterschool and summer learning opportunities work. We know that quality expanded learning programs are associated with increased academic performance, increased attendance in school, significant improvement in behavior and social and emotional development, and greater opportunities for hands-on learning in important areas that are not typically available during the school day” (Peterson, Fowler, and Dunham, p. 357).
While the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act continues to be bogged down in Congress, policy activity relating to education and expanding access to afterschool and summer learning programs at the state level has picked up—especially in New York, California and Kansas.
In late January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo released his FY2015 state budget. Included in the plan were proposed investments in children and families through support for statewide universal pre-kindergarten, afterschool programs and increased funding for child care. The governor pledged $720 million over five years to support the expansion of afterschool programs for middle school students. The proposed funding could expand access to afterschool programs for up to 100,000 additional students in the first year. The announcement followed the proposal of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to increase access to afterschool programs for middle school students in New York City. The governor’s budget also proposed an increase in New York’s investment in child care by increasing funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant by $21 million. Child care subsidies are at least $80 million less today than in 2010-2011, when New York benefitted from stimulus funds. For more information on the afterschool proposal in New York, including testimony at a recent hearing, visit the website of the New York State Afterschool Network.
By Luci Manning
After-School Activities Empower Kids (The Hill, District of Columbia)
A recent nation-wide study from Deborah Lowe Vandell, researcher at the University of California-Irvine School of Education, reaffirmed that high quality afterschool programs give children incredible opportunities to succeed. In an op-ed for The Hill, Vandell writes: “Participating in after-school activities–consistently, day in and day out–improves student achievement for kids from low-income families. In fact, taking part in these programs can help close the gap in math achievement between low-income and high-income children.”
Statewide Network Pushes After-school Efforts (The Tennessean, Tennessee)
Afterschool programs in Tennessee are starting to coordinate their efforts, so that students from across the state can have access to high quality care. Mary Graham, United Way of Tennessee president, emphasized to The Tennessean the “need to improve access all across the board, including the gap populations, like the middle school population, more programs for at-risk (children) and more for rural areas.” The United Way of Tennessee is coordinating the new Tennessee Afterschool Network.
See How a Partnership Increases Attendance at Boys and Girls Clubs Afterschool Programs (MLive, Michigan)
Thanks to a new partnership with Dean Transportation, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids is able to help more students. The transportation service, which comes at no cost to the clubs or the school district, will enable Grand Rapids to take on children who recently had their afterschool programs cut. Nicole Rodammer, director of development at the Boys & Girls Club, told MLive that they are hoping to add 90 more children to the 300 they already serve at three different locations. The clubs provide a variety of activities from homework help and academic support to extracurricular activities.
Three hundred passionate students from 36 high schools throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District gave back to the community’s homeless last weekend at an event coordinated by the Beyond the Bell afterschool program. Alvaro Cortes, executive director of Beyond the Bell, explained to the Los Angeles Times that the day of service was an effort to empower students to make a difference. The students served meals, sorted clothes, cleaned and painted, while gaining a valuable perspective from the personal stories of the homeless men and women they met.
With the release this month of the Afterschool Alliance issue brief on the Common Core, I’ve had a number of afterschool providers and advocates reach out to me with questions about the controversy surrounding the Common Core: are they here to stay? What exactly will change in terms of curriculum? Why is there opposition? I’ll attempt to answer some of those questions here and shed some light on the debate over the Common Core State Standards.
The bipartisan, state-led effort to develop the Common Core State Standards began more than five years ago and grew out of the concern that U.S. students were not as prepared with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in life nor compete at the global level, along with the desire to ensure all students in all states were held to common, high standards to increase the likelihood for success in college and careers. The Common Core State Standards as they exists today seek to provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. They are a state-led effort that established a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics that states voluntarily adopt.
From Rhode Island to Washington state and everywhere in-between, statewide afterschool networks are bringing together the afterschool field to find ways to support learning under the new Common Core State Standards.
Last November, School’s Out Washington held a one-day workshop to help align afterschool activities with school day lessons, as well as help afterschool providers communicate with parents and keep them informed about the Common Core. The workshop was open to afterschool and youth development programs interested in learning about how they can help students meet the goals and expectations of the Common Core. Janet Schmidt, chief program and policy officer for School’s Out Washington, commented that in afterschool programs, “[Kids] have that space, that time, to really dig in and experience things hands-on in a new way than what a classroom teacher has during the school day, with the constraints of the schedules that they have.”
In June, Adam Greenman, executive director of the Rhode Island After School Plus Alliance (RIASPA), shared how his organization is working with afterschool programs in Rhode Island to better understand the Common Core. From holding information sessions and presentations about the Common Core to working with the state’s Department of Education to provide joint professional development opportunities for school day staff and afterschool providers, RIASPA is working to help programs align their work to foster success among students. Adam said it best, “The Common Core State Standards offer afterschool practitioners and teachers opportunities to align programming and content with each other in a way that satisfies our mutual goals: the healthy development of children and youth.”
Throughout the month of October, more than 150 photos were entered into the Lights On Afterschool photo contest and we’re letting Facebook users decide which programs will shine the brightest. Up to three programs are eligible to win $1000 in cash, and one program in a Bright House Networks service area can win up to $2000.
We've also teamed up with some of our statewide afterschool network partners to offer additional prizes to local programs in their state.
To help your program win, all you have to do is vote for their photo on Facebook. You can only vote for a single photo once per day, but come back the following day to vote again! Between Nov. 1-15, each Facebook user can cast up to 15 votes per photo by voting every day. Make sure to encourage parents, program staff, community members and friends to help your program win by voting often.
Throughout the month of October, thousands of afterschool programs rallied their communities to build support for the afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire learning and help working families.
And governors across the country got in on the action, too! In all, 48 governors recognized Lights On Afterschool—some proclaimed Oct. 17 as Lights On Afterschool Day in their state, others issued public letters of support and recognition of the good work being done in the state to support students and working families during the hours after school.
We want to extend a special thank you to all of the governors who took the time to help make Lights On Afterschool 2013 such a special event. Here’s the list of governors who proclaimed Oct. 17 to be Lights On Afterschool Day in their state; different actions are noted beside their name. Be sure to tweet them to say thanks!
Just 10 more days to submit a photo to the Bright House Networks Facebook photo contest!
We know you probably took a bunch of photos at your Lights On Afterschool event—show them off by submitting the best one for the chance to win up to $2,000! Click here for contest rules and details.
Need some inspiration? Check out the submissions from last year: