Monday, November 1, 2010

Interview with Lucy Friedman (TASC) on ELT and Future Trends in Afterschool

By Sam Piha
Redefining afterschool programs as “expanded learning time” (ELT) has made its way into discussions regarding the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind and the 21st CCLCs. Below is a brief interview with Lucy Friedman, President of The After-School Corporation (TASC) in which she offers her views on the growing ELT conversation and on important new trends in the field of afterschool programming. Lucy is a member of the National Advisory Group for the Learning in Afterschool project. A more complete bio follows this interview.

Q: How do we maximize the opportunities and minimize the threats that ELT presents to afterschool program providers?
Lucy Friedman
A: Those of us who have been working in the after-school hours know that schools can’t provide all kids with opportunities for active learning, exposure to new horizons, and support for their healthy development in a 6-hour school day, 180 days a year.We maximize this opportunity and minimize risks by unleashing the power of community partners to help schools expand not just the hours, but the quality of kids’ learning experiences. If we want to find ways to deepen student engagement, to give kids a greater sense of ownership over their learning and to tap into their dreams and aspirations, we need to re-engineer the school day so that it’s not just more of the same. We need to engage parents and community partners, which is the foundation for TASC’s Expanded Learning Time / New York City model.

Thus, federal policy on 21CCLC should clearly state that:
  • Schools that expand learning time should partner with community organizations.
  • Community organizations have a right to apply for 21CCLC funds.
  • States and localities will have flexible choice in how they deploy 21CCLC.
As you know, the evidence is compelling that the social, emotional and other supports community organizations offer students contribute significantly to their cognitive growth and academic success. The best expanded learning time approaches will embrace and build on effective after-school programs through genuine, fully integrated school and community partnerships.

Q: How might the Learning in Afterschool principles be useful in framing the ELT conversation?
A: The LIA principles make concrete the kind of learning that can and should happen beyond traditional school hours: active, collaborative learning that prepares kids for careers we can’t even imagine.

Q: There is always a lot going on in the growing and changing afterschool movement. What is most on your mind right now outside of ELT?
A: I’m excited by the growing enthusiasm I see among policymakers, educators and community leaders for greater informal science opportunities in the hours beyond the traditional school day. We know now that with the right training, community educators can be terrific informal science leaders and role models for kids who have been under-represented on science and technology career tracks.

Q: What do you see as the approaching trends in the field that we should keep an eye on?
A: The optimist in me believes that the pressure on state and local budgets will cause more leaders to want to work at rationalizing funding streams and building partnerships. We’ve got to do that if we want to reach more kids and get better results from every dollar we invest in out-of-school time opportunities.
In New York City, we see more principals developing an appreciation for what community partners can do to support kids’ development and higher achievement. That trend will continue to grow.

Lucy Friedman is the founder and President of The After-School Corporation (TASC). TASC is dedicated to giving all kids opportunities to grow through after-school and summer programs that support, educate and inspire them. She has served on a variety of advisory commissions and boards, including the National Academy of Science, the Afterschool Alliance and Bryn Mawr College. Lucy has been a member of The Coalition for Science After School Steering Committee since 2004 and served as its chair from 2006 to 2008. 

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