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JAN
23

STEM
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Afterschool STEM in the Senate ESEA working draft

By Sophie Papavizas

Last week, the Afterschool Alliance published a blog post highlighting the elimination of funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization working draft.  Investments in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (know as the STEM fields) are also missing from the bill.  The last reauthorization, also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), included a single competitive grant program dedicated exclusively to STEM at the Department of Education.   The program, named the Math and Science Partnership Program (Title II. B), was a major source of funding for professional development of math and science teachers in some states but is not included in Chairman Alexander’s current working draft.

In a letter to Senate and House Committee leadership, James Brown of the STEM Education Coalition expressed two priorities for STEM in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization.  The first is to continue to include science in the testing and accountability framework.  The second is to include a dedicated Federal funding stream for STEM-related activities.  With the accountability system’s focus on reading and math, many schools are spending less time on science and diverting funding to preparation for high-stakes tests.  Computer science and engineering are completely absent from many schools.

Afterschool programs have long stepped up to the plate to fill this gap, offering hands-on, quality learning experiences for students in a variety of STEM subjects.  The Afterschool Alliance has highlighted some of these programs in our STEM Storybook.  We need more investments in STEM education and in afterschool to ensure that our students are prepared for STEM careers.  Let your representatives know—check out our advocacy toolkit and the Afterschool Alliance ESEA reauthorization action alert.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy Science
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JAN
21

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: FIU's After-School All-Stars program helps middle school students excel in school, life

By Rachel Clark

Natalia Sol is the Vice President of External Relations for After-School All-Stars, dedicated to supporting the South Florida chapter of the organization.

Pictured:  Left to Right: JJ Calvo (NY Life Hispanic Initiative), Natalia Sol (ASAS SF), Dean Delia Garcia (FIU, College of Education), Pat Mccraw and Tom Krach (NY Life, an ASAS National Partner), President Mark Rosenberg (FIU), and Ben Gilbert (ASAS SF, Board Chair)

For the parents of countless Miami-Dade middle school children living in at-risk communities, the end of the school day can be filled with worry.

Did my son make it home safe?  Is my daughter really doing her homework?  Are they getting enough exercise?

Erik Torres, however, isn’t worrying at all.  Instead, he’s dreaming about all the things his 13-year-old daughter Victoria could do with a college degree thanks to preparation for high school and college success she receives South Florida branch of the After-School All-Stars program (ASAS), which recently partnered with FIU’s College of Education.

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learn more about: Guest Blog
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JAN
20

STEM
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Guest blog: Student and families coding & making together

By Melissa Ballard

Ricarose Roque is a PhD candidate with the Lifelong Kindergarten research group at the MIT Media Lab.  She leads the Family Creative Learning project, a program that engages whole families to learn together with creative technologies.  She is also a member of the MIT Scratch Team, which designs and develops the Scratch programming language and online community for kids.  Previously, she helped to coordinate the Project GUTS afterschool program in Chicago, IL and worked on other educational technology projects such as StarLogo TNG, a programming and simulation environment for kids. 

With our rapidly changing world, how can we engage our youth and our communities as creators and inventors to shape an increasingly digital society?  I believe that engaging whole families in creative learning experiences with technology can build a necessary network of support as youth participate and pursue their interests in an ever-changing landscape.

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learn more about: Guest Blog Science
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JAN
16

POLICY
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21st CCLC initiative eliminated in Sen. Alexander's ESEA reauthorization discussion draft bill

By Erik Peterson

As we previewed earlier this week, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization process officially kicked off late on Tuesday night with the release of Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) staff discussion draft reauthorization bill.  The proposed “Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015” would replace the 2001 No Child Left Behind law and seeks to increases flexibility for states under a reduced federal footprint.  The proposed bill offers two approaches to annual testing requirements, makes teacher evaluation through test scores optional and eliminates a range of existing programs including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative that currently provides afterschool and summer learning programs to more than 1.6 million students.

Separately on Wednesday, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan responded to the Chairman’s draft by expressing serious concern with a number of provisions.  The tentative process moving forward includes a number of discussion sessions giving Senate HELP Committee members’ staff an opportunity to fully understand the 400-page bill, followed by negotiations to determine the legislation that will be marked up in the Senate HELP Committee likely during the middle of next month.  An ESEA bill could be debated on the Senate floor as early as this spring or summer.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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JAN
14

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  January 14, 2015

By Luci Manning

Static Cling! Kids Try to Make Cellphone Charging T-Shirts (The Brooklyn Paper, New York)

Pow! Caped Crusaders in Technology, a tech-centric afterschool program in Flatbush, is teaching sixth and seventh graders how to make wearable tech gadgets. For their first project, students created a shirt that can charge a cellphone. Once they finished the shirts, which feature pockets with a built-in phone charger and battery, the afterschool students presented their work to the rest of the class and took questions. Bobbie Brown, the site director of Brooklyn College Community Partnership, which runs the program, said the point of the program is to get kids thinking about making things. “Once they see that it’s not that hard, they’ll say ‘I can do this’,” Brown told The Brooklyn Paper. “Be more creative, take control. We’re really pushing that entrepreneurial spirit.”

Lafayette After-School Group Pairs Students with Mentors Who Are Architects, Engineers or Construction Professionals (Lexington Herald Leader, Kentucky)

Architects, engineers and other construction professionals are giving students a glimpse into their daily lives through an afterschool mentoring program. In the Lafayette High School ACE (architecture, construction and engineering) Mentor Program, professionals teach students about the basics of building and aid them as they work on complex hypothetical projects. The program allows students to be around people with similar interests and to imagine what their future careers might look like. Gene Toth, director of Lafayette’s pre-engineering program, told the Lexington Herald Leader that the afterschool group gives his students “a hands-on chance to actually meet with the architects and engineers that do this on a daily basis.”

After-School Program at Nursing Home Helps Young and Old (Duncan Banner, Oklahoma)

At Wilkins Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, an afterschool program for elementary students is bridging the generations. Through the Heart Bridge program, nursing home residents act as tutors and reading buddies for the students. The residents and the children love spending time together, and often connect as if they were relatives. “We have seen that children and school groups that come out always make the residents’ day,” Wilkins administrator and owner Melanie Wilkins told the Duncan Banner. “They just love to see the children and interact with them.” The average afternoon is packed with activity – the kids have a snack, read with the residents, work on art projects and attend field trips.

Teen Center Celebrated for Youth Outreach (The Herald, Connecticut)

The YWCA House of Teens, an afterschool program designed to give teenage girls advocacy and leadership skills, healthy habits and stronger self-esteem, will be honored today at a celebration with New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart. House of Teens keeps girls motivated to stay in school and take part in community activities. “Many of these girls need female role models to help them develop leadership skills and good decision-making skills,” YWCA associate director Tracey Madden-Hennessey told The Herald. In the program, girls participate in community service projects, like collecting food for nonprofits and highlighting ways to prevent domestic violence. 

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learn more about: Health and Wellness Science
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JAN
13

STEM
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Successful science center partnerships for Lights On Afterschool

By Melissa Ballard

This past October, 20 science centers and afterschool programs across the U.S. partnered up to co-host a STEM-themed Lights On Afterschool event in their community. Most partners had previously been interested in working together, but hadn’t yet found the right opportunity to do so. We worked with the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) to offer a $1,500 mini-grant that would allow each science center-afterschool pair to make the first steps in what we hoped to be a continuing partnership.

After hearing back from all the grantees, we’re happy to report that the initiative saw many successes! An average of 190 children and 50 adults attended each event, participating in a variety of hands-on science, engineering, and “maker”-style activities. Science center and afterschool partners were able to learn more about each other’s work and find common ground. Many of the Statewide Afterschool Networks and city intermediaries lent a hand, inviting local policy makers and other VIP’s.

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learn more about: Competition Events and Briefings Science State Networks Academic Enrichment Community Partners
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JAN
13

POLICY
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New year, new Congress, new momentum

By Erik Peterson

2015 has only just begun but Congress is already into its second week and legislative priorities are emerging for the year ahead.  The 114th Congress convened last week with Republicans controlling both the House (246 Republicans to 188 Democrats, 1 vacancy) and the Senate (54 Republicans to 44 Democrats, with 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats) as a result of the 2014 midterm elections.  What does the 114th Congress have in store that could impact afterschool and summer learning programs?  Plenty.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Advocacy Congress ESEA Events and Briefings Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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DEC
18

STEM
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Guest blog: New insights for improving afterschool science

By Melissa Ballard

Dr. Ann House is a researcher and evaluator who works on projects that explore innovative schools, science and STEM education, and out-of-school learning settings. She is based at SRI International’s Center for Technology in Learning, a nonprofit, independent research organization. Currently, Dr. House is leading the “Afterschool Science Networks Study” which explores the state of science offerings and the external sources of support for science in California’s public afterschool programs.

How can students keep learning science when the school day ends? Afterschool programs are a natural fit for hands-on science and the development of inquiry skills, like posing questions, designing scientific investigations, and creating explanations based on observations. Afterschool programs have the potential to boost students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

To understand the support networks underlying current afterschool science offerings, SRI conducted a five-year study funded by the National Science Foundation to examine the state of science learning opportunities in California’s After School and Education Safety (ASES) program.

 

 

 

 

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learn more about: Guest Blog Science State Policy Community Partners
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