Thursday, September 1, 2011

Comments from Carla Sanger on Expanded Learning Opportunities

By Sam Piha

The idea of extending the school day, which is known as expanded learning opportunities, is making its way into federal education and afterschool policy. Last Sunday, the New York Times published an op-ed on this topic. Our prior LIA blog posts also featured a two-part interview with Jennifer Davis, President and CEO of the National Center on Time & Learning, on the same topic.

California already has a significant commitment to learning in the afterschool hours through the passage of Proposition 49. So, what does the idea of extending the school day mean to afterschool leaders in California? Below is a response from Carla Sanger, CEO of LA’s BEST, one of California’s largest and most effective afterschool program providers.

“We know budget cuts and shortened school years hurt students, especially those students whose families don't have the resources to invest in tutoring and enrichment classes. But those who advocate solely for more time on task in a classroom setting are as shortsighted as the kids are shortchanged: Students need time to learn differently, through engaging activities that reinforce rather than repeat lessons learned in school, and inspire them to discover individual talents and interests. 

When community-based organizations such as LA's BEST partner with schools to provide these opportunities, the result is not only high-quality programs that improve student performance, but a delivery system at a fraction of the cost of an extended day model. 

Of the long-term evaluation results of the LA's BEST program, Eva Baker, President of the World Educational Research Association, asked, "Can we name any other reform with this empirical track record and low cost?" We can run seven afterschool sites for the price of extending the school day on one campus. That's not chump change, to us or the kids.”

Carla Sanger has been the President and Chief Executive Officer of LA's BEST (Better Educated Students for Tomorrow) After School Enrichment Program for 17 years. She is a long-time specialist in children's education policy and advocacy, working in both the public and private sectors in many different capacities. She serves on numerous afterschool quality and evaluation advisory committees and task forces and has been honored with a number of local, state, and national awards. Ms. Sanger has also been a featured speaker and conference presenter for numerous school districts throughout California.

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