Friday, January 16, 2015

Expanded Learning Time: An Interview with Lucy Friedman, President of TASC

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha

Lucy Friedman is President of The After-School Corporation (TASC) in New York. Lucy continues to be a leader and innovator within the afterschool movement. Recently, Lucy and her organization have been an outspoken advocate for expanded learning and a partnership between schools and community organizations that focus on the healthy development of youth. We asked Lucy to respond to a few questions and her responses are below. 


Lucy Friedman
President
TASC

Q: The term “expanded learning” is used differently by different people in different parts of the country. Can you give your definition of “expanded learning time?" 

A: Expanded learning re-imagines the traditional school day by adding extra hours, partnering schools and community organizations, and enhancing the quality of education. Through this three-pronged approach, students get additional talent and role models in the classroom and a balanced curriculum that includes the arts, physical movement and hands-on, personalized learning. TASC’s model of expanded learning adds the equivalent of 72 more days to the school year.

We define expanded learning time as an integration between the school day and after-school time. The experiences during the traditional day and those typically in the later hours build upon each other. Lessons and activities perceived as "the fun stuff" are connected to core subjects - reinforcing, making relevant or enhancing what a student learns in, say, math or language arts. At the same time, these learning experiences foster social and emotional development and greater student engagement with school, which leads to greater academic outcomes. In this way, kids get the chance to discover their talents and develop their full potential.

Q: In your mind, what is the difference between the terms “expanded learning” and “extended learning”?

A: 'Extended learning' implies more of the same - a longer school day filled with more time at desks or doing test prep. 'Expanded learning,' on the other hand, sees community partners as a critical component to bringing a broader curricular focus on social and emotional learning, hands-on engagement and learning enrichments that expand horizons and opportunities.

Q: Are you hoping that the field begins using the terms “expanded learning programs” to replace “afterschool and summer programs”?

A: Replacing the terms may lead to confusion for schools and families to whom "summer" and "after-school programs" often mean enriched child care during non-school hours. Rather, we'd like to see expanded learning time be not just an option available to schools and communities, but also a movement that raises expectations and makes it the norm for kids in low-income neighborhoods to have access to the same quality of education and enrichment that middle-class kids currently enjoy in and out of school. We’ve calculated that by 6th grade, kids from low-income communities suffer a 6,000-hour learning gap compared with their middle-class peers. Expanded learning time helps close those learning and opportunity gaps.

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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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