Monday, October 24, 2011

CBASS Helps Influence 21st CCLC Legislative Changes

Jessica Donner
By Guest Bloggers, Jessica Donner, Director, Collaborative for Building After-School Systems, and Jennifer Peck, Executive Director, Partnership for Children and Youth.

With the draft ESEA bill introduced last week by the Senate HELP committee, federal activity has been heating up. On October 20th, thanks to a critical push by Senator Whitehouse (RI), The Collaborative for Building After-School Systems (CBASS) helped influence a few big wins in the legislation.

Jennifer Peck
Thanks to Hillary Salmons of Providence After School Alliance (PASA), CBASS worked closely with Senator Whitehouse’s office to introduce an amendment that reflects his priorities and builds off the bipartisan base bill to ensure the program supports high quality programs that include community partners and local choice. Policies we support in 21st Century ESEA reauthorization are included in our letter to Chairman Tom Harkin and Ranking Member Mike Enzi, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

The legislative changes instituted today are an important first step forward to maintaining support for after-school and summer learning as anchor approaches in the program and ensuring community partners play a lead role in delivering programs, in collaboration with schools.

Here are the wins:
1. No federal preference or priority on which approach (after-school, summer, expanded learning for some kids, expanded learning for all kids) will be used.

2. Support for community partners. Amendment strengthens community partner requirement, with only a narrow exception for particular rural communities for whom the requirement would be a significant hardship.

3. Clarity on who can be fiscal agent. Whitehouse amendment ensures that either the district or nonprofit partner can be the lead fiscal agent.

4. Support for quality programs as well as innovation. New language ensures that effective and innovative approaches to programs can be utilized by grantees.

There are other big pieces we would like to see moving forward, including clarifying the definition of ELT to make sure it’s inclusive of enrichment activities, community partners and is focused on ELT design, not whole school redesign. We look forward to working with you to help improve the legislation even further.

Please join us in thanking Senator Whitehouse for his leadership and commitment to an improved 21st CCLC program!

To follow future developments effecting education and afterschool at the federal and state level, go to: http://www.learninginafterschool.org/developmentsinas.htm

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Jennifer Peck was a founding staff member of the Partnership For Children and Youth in 2001 and became its Executive Director in 2003. Jennifer leads a coalition of California organizations advocating for new federal policies to improve the effectiveness of after-school and summer-learning programs. She will also be one of our speakers at the upcoming How Kids Learn Conference in January 2012.

Jessica Donner serves as the Director of the Collaborative for Building After-School Systems (CBASS), a partnership of after-school intermediary organizations in eight cities dedicated to increasing the availability of quality afterschool programming.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Honest Conversations about Youth Development and Education

Eric Gurna
By Sam Piha

Eric Gurna and his organization, Development Without Limits, is now offering Please Speak Freely, podcasts of interviews with afterschool and educational thought leaders. To date, podcast interviews have included Karen Pittman, Pedro Noguera, Alexis Menten, and Earl Martin Phalen. To learn more about Please Speak Freely podcast, click here.

Pedro Noguera

Just a note, Pedro Noguera and Alexis Menten are just two of an all-star group of speakers who will present at the Learning in Afterschool’s one-day conference entitled How Kids Learn. For more details, click here.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Race to Nowhere

By Sam Piha

How best to educate our kids continues to be a topic of discussion, which has recently been spurred on by the release of feature length documentaries. Race to Nowhere is the latest release on the subject.

From the film's website: “Race to Nowhere points to the silent epidemic in our schools: cheating has become commonplace, students have become disengaged, stress-related illness, depression and burnout are rampant, and young people arrive at college and the workplace unprepared and uninspired.

Race to Nowhere is a call to mobilize families, educators, and policy makers to challenge current assumptions on how to best prepare the youth of America to become healthy, bright, contributing and leading citizens.

In a grassroots sensation already feeding a groundswell for change, hundreds of theaters, schools and organizations nationwide are hosting community screenings during a six month campaign to screen the film nationwide. Tens of thousands of people are coming together, using the film as the centerpiece for raising awareness, radically changing the national dialogue on education and galvanizing change.”

We do not have an opinion on this film as we have not had a chance to view it. But that chance is coming soon. To learn more about this film and learn where it is being screened, click here. To view the trailer, click here. For those who have a chance to view this documentary, we welcome your comments.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Save the Date for How Kids Learn: A One-Day Conference in the Bay Area on January 27, 2012

The Learning in Afterschool Project is proud to join with others in sponsoring How Kids Learn on January 27, 2012. The purpose of this TED-like, one-day conference is to inform and energize OST program leaders, educators and afterschool stakeholders regarding our current knowledge on how kids learn and to share innovative approaches to promote learning outside of the classroom. In addition to hearing from cutting edge thinkers on how kids learn, participants will have the opportunity to meet innovative practitioners and California colleagues.

WHY FOCUS ON THE “HOWs” OF LEARNING

Much is discussed and written on what children need to learn. Less attention is paid to how they learn. What have we learned in recent brain research that contributes to this question? How can we apply this knowledge to improve our work with young people to increase their motivation and interest in learning? What are effective learning approaches that are currently being used successfully by practitioners, especially those working in out-of-school programs and in informal learning settings, and what makes them successful?


SPACE IS LIMITED!  For more details and how to register, visit the conference website: www.howkidslearn.org.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Will 21st CCLC Programs Be Eliminated?

By Sam Piha

Jennifer Peck
Lucy Friedman
Federal 21st CCLC funding provides the only support for the high school ASSETs afterschool program in California and also funds many K-8 programs in our state. In many other states, this federal funding stream provides the major support for afterschool programs.

Those interested in following discussions in Washington, D.C. that will have a bearing on the future of federally funded afterschool should read a recent Huffington Post article co-authored by Jennifer Peck, Executive Director of the Partnership for Children and Youth (based in the Bay Area) and Lucy Friedman, President of The After-School Corporation (TASC – based in New York). To read this article, click here.


Monday, October 3, 2011

More Time in School, or Quality Learning Experiences?

By Sam Piha

In our previous blogs, we’ve followed the dialogue regarding extended learning opportunities and a longer school day. A debate on this issue, featuring Geoffrey Canada and others, was featured in the New York Times series, Room For Debate.

We believe that introducing the Learning in Afterschool Principles should be the focus of any efforts to expand the school day.