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JAN
28

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  January 28, 2015

By Luci Manning

Giving Young Athletes in New York a Fighting Chance (New York Times, New York)

Retired police officer Pat Russo works with youths on fitness, schoolwork and discipline, preparing hundreds of young men and women to face everyday challenges.  Despite all the young people throwing punches, Russo swears the Atlas NYPD Cops and Kids Boxing Program is not about boxing—it’s a way to heal rifts between young people and police and to teach kids the importance of staying healthy and staying in school.  For high school senior Elijah Johnson, the afterschool program is working.  “I used to get into the wrong stuff,” he told the New York Times.  “When I started boxing, I learned to discipline myself, how to be on time, how to dress properly, stay focused on school and be willing to work.”

Mentoring Program Helps Boys at Dixie Magnet Elementary Show Respect and Gain Self-Confidence (Lexington Herald Leader, Kentucky)

One by one, fourth- and fifth-grade boys in the Operation Making a Change afterschool group at Dixie Magnet Elementary stood at the front of the room and explained how they had shown leadership in the past week.  One had defused a bullying incident, another tutored kindergarten students and a third gave money to a homeless person.  The mentoring program is meant to teach these young men basic social and leadership skills, like how to show respect, set goals and take on responsibility at school.  Dixie Dean of Students Cheri Presley told the Lexington Herald Leader that the boys support each other and have developed a sense of family, especially with their mentors.  “Dixie as well as most other elementary schools have primarily female staffs,” she said.  “To bring men into the picture and mentor these boys, I feel like it’s been a huge success.”

Home Depot: Teaching Life Skills to Students (Jackson Sun, Tennessee)

At a Home Depot in Jackson last week, John Ducrest taught 13 children how to use simple tools, repair a hole in a wall and to cover damage.  The workshop was part of Keep My Hood Good, an afterschool mentoring program for children in high-crime areas.  Founder Juanita Jones said her mission is to equip the children to give back to their communities, the Jackson Sun reports.  Future workshops will teach other indoor and outdoor home repair and gardening projects, and Home Depot plans to partner with Keep My Hood Good on additional community service activities.

Mentoring Program Keeps Teen on Proper Path (Chicago Sun-Times, Illinois)

The Lawndale Christian Legal Center opened in 2010 to provide legal representation to area families, but its leaders quickly recognized that the youth they encountered needed more than legal help.  Organizers started an afterschool mentoring program targeting high school students on probation and in need of guidance.  “This is such an important relationship because there’s so many kids out here who are lost,” afterschool program director Maurice Harris told the Chicago Sun-Times.  “They don’t have the relationships with people that show continuous support with their daily life problems.”  Mentors follow the students throughout high school, eventually helping them with college applications and even job placement.  The center also provides academic tutoring, substance-abuse counseling, community service projects and social outings for the teens. 

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learn more about: Health and Wellness Community Partners
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JAN
27

STEM
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The latest in STEM learning research: January 2015

By Melissa Ballard

Interested in what current research in education is saying about STEM learning?  Don’t have time to keep up with it all?  We hear you!

We’ve been a part of the Relating Research to Practice project for a while now, and we think it’s a fantastic resource.  Along with a group of researchers from the Exploratorium, the University of Washington and Kings College London, we monitor more than 10 peer-reviewed journals in science education, museum studies and the learning sciences.

Then, we write short briefs intended for educators who work in afterschool and summer programs, at science centers and museums, and in other out-of-school time settings.  The briefs are written with the interests, needs, and institutional settings of these educators in mind, with the hope that they'll be used to inform professional development, discussion, reflection and practice.

So whether you’re interested in equity, identity or environmental education—there’s something for you!

Want to get the monthly updates in your inbox? Register on the RR2P website and elect to receive the monthly digests.  And be sure to follow the RR2P project on Twitter and Facebook!

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learn more about: Science
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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
22

RESEARCH
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Afterschool programs inspiring students with a connected learning approach

By Nikki Yamashiro

Today, afterschool programs are providing their students a host of learning opportunities—from designing websites to writing poetry to gardening, he list goes on and on.  But what many afterschool programs share is the way in which they approach creating learning opportunities for their students—finding new ways for students to take part in activities that are relevant to them, while building academic and workplace skills and knowledge.  Afterschool programs have been among the pioneers in applying a connected learning approach—creating a learning environment for students that builds on their interests; introduces them to new passions; provides mentors and a supportive peer network; and links this engagement to academics, careers and civic participation. 

Our new report, “Afterschool Programs: Inspiring Students with a Connected Learning Approach,” discusses the role afterschool programs play in the ecology of learning, where programs can help bridge the divides that exist in terms of access to additional learning opportunities, access to caring mentors, and access to resources and peer networks that can excite young people about the acquisition of knowledge.  The report also dives into connected learning, exploring this educational approach that is the intentional linkage of ones’ interests, peer groups and academics, and how it capitalizes on the benefits of all three areas to create a learning experience that is both powerful and enduring. 

Included in the report are examples of afterschool programs that are offering connected learning opportunities that join together their students’ interests, peer networks and academics, as well as key takeaways from programs.  For example, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, students at Createch Studio—a partnership between the St. Paul Public Library and the St. Paul Parks and Recreation Department—are able to help design the program’s space, can take part in a youth advisory council and provide input on activities offered at the program.  Students can take part in a variety of activities—such as videography, dance, design and photography—where they have the ability to create, remix and share their work.

If you’re interested in learning more about connected learning, be sure to take a look at the “Resources” section at the end of the report that includes information on networks for educators, additional reports and websites focused on connected learning.

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JAN
22

POLICY
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Senate HELP Committee holds hearing on testing and accountability

By Sophie Papavizas

On Wednesday, January 21, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) under Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) held a hearing on Fixing No Child Left Behind: Testing and Accountability.  The hearing focused on reviewing the testing and accountability measures for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

This was the first hearing for the HELP Committee in the 114th Congress and Chairman Alexander used the opportunity to outline his agenda for the new Congress, reiterating his commitment to fixing No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and promising to have a bill ready for the floor by the end of February.  A working draft for the bill was posted on the Committee website last week and presents two options for testing.  The first option gives flexibility to the states to decide what to do, while the second option maintains current law testing requirements.

Below is a list of the witnesses present at the hearing.  Their written testimony can be found here.

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learn more about: Congress ESEA Federal Policy
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JAN
22

POLICY
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New York City moving toward afterschool for all

By Rachel Clark

This month, Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Bill Chong announced the opening of 49 new School’s Out New York City (SONYC) programs, adding 2,500 afterschool seats for middle schoolers.  During his term, the Mayor aims to provide an afterschool program to any middle schooler who wants one.

271 SONYC programs were launched in September, marking the largest expansion of afterschool for middle schoolers in city history, and likely in the nation.  According to Mayor de Blasio, New York City’s historic investment in middle school afterschool has resulted in enrollment reaching 121 percent for the more than 75,000 city-funded afterschool seats currently available to middle school students.  Before the expansion, New York City was already far above the national average for afterschool participation, with 28 percent of children participating compared to 18 percent nationally.

“With thousands of new seats added for our city’s youth at diverse non-public schools and community centers citywide, more of our parents and families can rest assured their children have positive alternatives during a key period of their lives,” said Mayor de Blasio.  “Every middle schooler in New York City deserves access to a safe and engaging environment after the school bell rings.”

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JAN
21

POLICY
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President Obama's State of the Union: An afterschool perspective

By Erik Peterson

Last night, President Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union address to a Congress that for the first time in his presidency is controlled by Republicans in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.  Key highlights of the speech included tax proposals that would boost middle-class families and a new approach to immigration and a push for free education at community colleges.  Several elements of the speech are of interest to friends of afterschool, including new tax incentives for child care and a focus on community colleges.

The president proposed streamlining child care tax incentives to give middle-class families with young children a tax cut of up to $3,000 per child.  The president’s proposal would streamline and dramatically expand child care tax benefits, potentially helping 5.1 million families cover child care costs for 6.7 million children.  The proposal follows up on recent legislation and some new investments to improve child care quality, access, and affordability for working families.  The current average child care tax benefit of $550 falls short of the cost of child care, including the cost of quality school-age afterschool and summer care.  According to supplemental material from the Department of Health and Human Services, the president’s proposal would:

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learn more about: Federal Policy Obama
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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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