Monday, January 30, 2017

President Trump and Afterschool

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
Over the last three presidential administrations, we have enjoyed federal investments in 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC). However, we know that public support and investments come with a “shelf life”. It is important that we advocate for the continued federal investment in afterschool programs. 

With the new presidential administration and congress, there are both threats and opportunities we should be aware of. Below, we reached out to Betsy Brand, Executive Director of the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) and Gina Warner, Executive Director of the National AfterSchool Association (NAA) to share their thoughts on this. In future blog posts, we will keep our readers informed including information from the Afterschool Alliance and the Partnership for Children and Youth

Betsy Brand,
Q: What can we expect from the new presidential administration around afterschool/expanded learning programs? 
A: I think it’s unlikely that there will be much attention focused on afterschool/expanded learning with this Administration, unless it becomes linked to an agenda on expanding child care or as a way to reduce teen delinquency. 

There is a chance that afterschool could play a role in the school choice debates by allowing parents the freedom to select programs that meet the needs of their children, but I think that’s somewhat unlikely, too. The biggest challenge for discretionary programs will be the budget and appropriations. If this Administration increases spending for infrastructure, defense, and due to health care changes, there will be very little money for domestic discretionary programs like 21st CCLC. I believe we are going to see major appropriations battles over the next few years with regard to Labor-HHS-Ed and other domestic programs.

Q: What should we be prepared to do to ensure ongoing support for afterschool/expanded learning?
A: It’s time to make sure that advocates are busy contacting their Senators and Representatives. They are the ones that will have to hold the line on cuts to 21st CCLC and other programs that support afterschool and expanded learning. The positive thing is that afterschool already deserves very wide and bi-partisan support in Congress. We need to build on that and ensure that new members and new staff continue to hear how important afterschool is from their constituents – over and over again.

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Ms. Warner focused her thoughts on the possible opportunities that come with the new President. Below are her thoughts.

Gina Warner,
Q: In looking ahead to a new presidential administration, are there any opportunities that we should be aware of and how can the afterschool movement embrace these opportunities? 
A: I spent a large portion of my career working in New Orleans, Louisiana, the city that leads the nation with the largest percentage of students enrolled in public charter schools. As the leader of the city's afterschool intermediary for many years, I have a lot of experience building positive partnerships between afterschool providers and school leaders. Those experiences give me hope that afterschool can—and will—play a meaningful role in the growth of school choice.

Here are four things I know:

1. Afterschool is choice.
Inherent in many of the discussions about school choice is the belief that parents and children should have the ability to choose an educational environment that best meets their needs. Every day, 10.2 million children choose to participate in afterschool programs that enhance their academic, social, emotional and physical development. We need to embrace this message and begin to view it as central to our mission of growing afterschool investment.

2. Strong school leaders value afterschool.
High-quality afterschool programs positively impact school attendance, behavior and coursework. Strong school leaders see a high-quality afterschool program as an integral part of delivering successful outcomes for their students.

3. Strong afterschool programs drive student enrollment.
In cities like New Orleans and Washington, D.C.—where there is a competitive marketplace of educational options for families—those schools offering afterschool programs are viewed much more favorably by families and are often the schools with the longest waiting lists for admission.

4. Both in school and out of school, quality matters.
Just creating more choices is not sufficient to ensure the outcomes we want and need for all of our children. We must invest in the people that do this work, so they can continue to deliver high-quality learning and enrichment experiences for all children before, during and after the school day.

I will continue to advocate for increased investment in afterschool, because I believe in the positive benefits of strong afterschool programs for children, families and communities. Investments in school choice cannot come at the expense of investments in creating greater access to high-quality afterschool programs. I am hopeful that by working together—with a shared vision of success for all—afterschool can and will be a part of a growing school choice landscape.

Betsy Brand has served as the Executive Director of AYPF since 2004, and she served as Co-Director of the organization since 1998. Betsy has spent her career working on education, workforce, and youth policy and specializes in comprehensive approaches to helping young people be prepared for today’s careers, lifelong learning, and civic engagement.

Gina Warner was named President and CEO of the National AfterSchool Association in June 2012. NAA - the voice of the afterschool profession – has over 20,000 members across the country and hosts the most comprehensive program of professional development opportunities for afterschool professionals anywhere in the United States.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Global Competency, Part 1: How it is Part of the Equity Conversation

By Sam Piha
Sam Piha
We hear the words "globalization" and "global economy" a lot these days. Many say that preparing youth for the 21st Century requires a commitment to global learning and the development of global competency. It is important that ALL young people have the opportunity to advance their global competency and expanded learning programs are well positioned to address this. When we say "all", we have to look at the issues of equity.

The Asia Society is leading the charge in helping youth programs advance the global competency of their youth. (Asia Society is the leading educational organization dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among peoples, leaders and institutions of Asia and the United States in a global context.) NOTE: global learning and global competency are well aligned with the California Quality Standards for Expanded Learning Programs.

Heather Loewecke is Senior Program Manager of Afterschool and Youth Leadership Initiatives at Asia Society. Heather will lead a small group session entitled “Increasing Equity through Global Competence” at the upcoming How Kids Learn VI conference in Los Angeles on January 23, 2017. 

Below is part one of an interview that we conducted with Heather around the topic of global competency.

Q: Can you describe the term “Global Competence”? 
Heather Loewecke
A: The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and Asia Society convened a national task force that defined global competence as the “knowledge, skills, and dispositions to understand and act creatively on issues of global significance.” 

Globally competent young people are able to: 
Investigate the World - Young people use a range of methods to research globally significant questions that address important issues and events that are relevant locally or worldwide. They can also draw valid conclusions and develop a position based on that research.
Recognize Perspectives – Young people recognize and compare their own and others’ perspectives, considering the various factors that influence the development of these perspectives. They can also integrate others' viewpoints with their own, or create new ones, when necessary.
Communicate Ideas – Young people can effectively communicate with diverse audiences, and they understand that various audiences may perceive different meanings from the same information. Additionally, young people are proficient in English and at least one additional language, and they are technology and media literate within a global communications environment.
Take Action – Young people see themselves as agents of change. They can create and weigh options for action based on research, evidence, and personal insight, and they assess the potential impact of each option.

Issues of local and global significance can rarely be understood through a single discipline alone. Globally competent young people develop an integrated outlook on the world. Therefore, it's important that youth develop these competencies through both disciplinary and interdisciplinary study — learning and applying that learning as historians, scientists, and artists do within and across subject areas. 

Q: Why is global competence important in the equity conversation?
A: We know that young people from low-income households have less access than their peers in middle- and high-income families to enriching opportunities that increase language, communication, and social skills. As a result, disadvantaged youth have roughly 6000 fewer learning hours by 6th grade than their wealthier peers. On average, black and Latino students are roughly two to three years of learning behind white students of the same age, and nearly50 percent of low-income youth and youth of color drop out. Given that nearly one in two youth attending American public schools lives in a low-income community, and that ethnic and racial minorities now make up the majority of students, it is clear that both the opportunity and the achievement gaps are real challenges facing many across our country.

The opportunity and achievement gaps translate into a skills gap in the American workforce. An increasing number of US high school graduates enter college and the workforce lacking basic reading and math proficiency and 21st century skills such as problem-solving, effective communication, working well in diverse groups, social-emotional skills, and using technology for a wide range of basic tasks required for a middle-class wage. Manpower Group’s 2015 talent shortage survey found that 32 percent of US employers, and around 38 percent of employers worldwide, had difficulty filling jobs due to this skills gap. Additionally, it has been well-documented by the PISA test results that American students’ abilities to apply math, literacy, and science skills to real-world problems are less well-developed in comparison to high-performing countries in Europe and Asia.

Clearly, we need to shift from our 20th century assumptions about work, globalization, demographics, and civic engagement and develop a more innovative and visionary educational response to prepare all young people for the interconnected world and global workforce of the 21st century. Curriculum, instruction, and assessment need to be substantially redesigned to support student mastery and application of core workplace and civic competencies as well as academic knowledge. 

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More and more, including through the passage of ESSA, there is recognition that schools alone cannot prepare young people for success; it is critical that schools and communities collaborate in order to have the most positive and comprehensive impact on the development of all youth. Out-of-school time programs and networks can help the formal school system address these challenges by providing the opportunities to develop the academic and holistic supports to close the opportunity and achievement gaps and prepare youth for global citizenship. 

All youth deserve to be prepared to compete for high-paying jobs in the global economy and to contribute civically. And, global learning activities help youth look beyond their immediate surroundings and experiences – when their horizons are expanded, they begin to see different possibilities for their futures. In these ways, global learning activities are necessary – not supplemental - and can help address the academic and opportunity gaps of those in underserved communities. 

Heather began her career as an English teacher at a high school in New York City where she implemented interdisciplinary curricula utilizing a workshop format for developing students’ literacy skills. Then she managed capacity building projects and coached educators in various topics such as conflict resolution, lesson planning, social-emotional learning, behavior management, among others. Heather was a member of the Children’s Studies faculty at Brooklyn College and taught an undergraduate course called Perspectives on Childhood. She joined Asia Society in 2012. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Expanded Learning Leaders Look to 2017

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
As we look ahead to a new year and a new presidency, we will offer a number of posts on related topics. 

We asked a number of expanded learning/afterschool leaders to offer their thoughts on emerging trends and significant challenges facing the field in 2017. As you will note, many leaders are paying attention to the importance of social-emotional learning. You will also note that a major challenge facing the field in 2017 is the rising cost of workers in the face of stagnant budgets and grants. Below are their responses.  


Lucy Friedman,
ExpandED Schools
Lucy Friedman: We are heartened by the increasing focus on social-emotional learning, because we know the development of social and emotional “power skills” are critically important for success throughout life. Expanded learning programs provide the ideal setting for social-emotional learning. Expanded learning classes and activities are conducted without a grade book. When that fear of failure is removed, children can relax and reveal their more authentic selves. The expanded day is also taught by educators from youth-serving organizations built around serving the whole child. Social-emotional learning can be offered through a separate curriculum or embedded into other content areas. The practices of teamwork, perseverance, self-control and empathy should be explicitly integrated into all types of learning -- sports, chess and hands-on group projects like robotics and the arts. 
Ellen Gannett,
National Institute
for Out-of-School

Ellen Gannett: Looking ahead to 2017, I see that it will be important for expanded learning to use a continuum approach that is cross sector and builds upon the early childhood field to develop a continuum of care. 

Eric Gurna,
Eric Gurna: The social-emotional learning movement seems to be the prevailing trend right now, which I think is positive since it potentially gives expanded learning programs more of a seat at the table with mainstream educational leaders. But that is not something we can take for granted - I think we need to be more proactive in getting involved in critical discussions about what high quality SEL is, and how we have been focusing on this for our entire history as a field. 

Bill Fennessy,
THINK Together
Bill Fennessy: I still feel that the recent and continued expansion of College AND Career/Linked Learning/Career Pathways and Academies is a trend that will continue for the foreseeable future, and that Expanded Learning Programs need to become collaboratively involved in those LEA efforts to continue to remain relevant and sustainable.


Lucy Friedman: Just as in years past, the biggest challenge will be helping the public understand what it is we mean by expanded learning. After school is well understood, but is often viewed as a form of child care or recreation. And although supervised time is needed by working families, we can do so much more. Expanded learning, as we know it, seamlessly integrates learning done during the traditional school day with enrichments offered in expanded learning. Expanded learning is a way to bring equity of opportunity and we need this message to be loud and clear in 2017. All kids, from every zip code, should have access to the types of supports and experiences that they need in order to grow up to become confident, successful adults. 

Ellen Gannett: Children and youth will ultimately benefit from a unified system, and given the funding challenges facing expanded learning in the year ahead, it makes sense financially to eliminate redundancies in funding and tap into federal and state sources that are earmarked for early learning.

Jennifer Peck,
Partnership for
Children and
Jennifer Peck: I think an enormous challenge for the field in California continues to be the stagnant daily rate of $7.50 a day for our ASES programs, which gets tougher and tougher for providers as the minimum wage increases are phased in. Between cost of living increases since this rate was set more than a decade ago, and the minimum wage increases, providers are struggling more and more each year. We know from extensive field surveys that quality is suffering as a result, and we will likely see some programs shut their doors. The California Afterschool Advocacy Alliance and its partners and allies will once again go to the legislature and governor with a request for a rate increase for ASES. 

Eric Gurna: The most significant challenge I see is not unique to expanded learning - it's the weakening or even dismantling of the federal Department of Education. That potentiality is a threat to dozens of federally funded programs, including 21st Century Community Learning Centers, that serve economically distressed communities. Here in California, our biggest challenge is our state funding situation. Costs have risen dramatically due to important public mandates like minimum wage increases, but the funding has been flat for over ten years. If our political leaders continue to count these programs, which serve close to a half million children across the state, as a low priority, the entire system is at risk of failing. I am hopeful that as a field we can stand in solidarity with other groups with similar goals (early childhood, child care, teachers unions, etc.) and amplify the voices of the communities we serve, so that we get what we need to thrive and survive as a field. 

Bill Fennessy: The most significant challenge, without a doubt, will be having funding sufficient to continue just even compliant program delivery. With the increases in minimum wage and the accompanying “exempt employee” wage minimums there will clearly be only enough money to afford the required student supervision ratios. This means that Site Coordinator hours will probably have to be almost cut to just programming hours, that the next level of support for Site Coordinators and time needed for training and/or professional development will become unaffordable. The loss of these critically important supports for Expanded Learning programs and their staff will definitely have a severely negative impact on program quality and therefore effectiveness. This issue could in fact cause a collapse of Expanded Learning in California as we know it today.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Equity and ELPs: An Interview with Jorge Ruiz de Velasco

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
Jorge Ruiz de Velasco is Associate Director, John Gardner Center at Stanford University. Jorge is working with Marisa Saunders (Annenberg Institute on School Reform) to co-edit a book entitled Model Approaches for Advancing Equity through Expanded Learning Time: Policy Opportunities and Challenges. Jorge presented at the How Kids Learn VI conference in San Francisco and will also present at the upcoming HKL conference in Los Angeles on January 23, 2017.

Below are some questions and answers from a recent interview with Jorge.

Q: Can you give your definition of "equity" in regards to youth and
Jorge Ruiz de Velasco
youth programs? 

A: In the youth sector, an equity agenda is focused on ensuring that ALL youth have the opportunity to reach their full potential (academically, socially and emotionally), to contribute to society, and have voice in decisions that affect them.

Q: What is the difference between inequity and inequality? Are they interchangeable? 
A: In social and political terms, equality is a concern for “sameness” with respect to access to public goods, rights, and social status. 

Equity is concerned with accepted norms of “fairness.” They are neither the same nor interchangeable, but are both critical components of a democracy. Because they are values that are both socially determined and often in tension, they require social and political commitments (acceptance).

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Q: Can you describe the difference between the "achievement gap" and "opportunity gap"? 
A: An achievement gap describes the measurable distance between what one person or group attains relative to other individuals or groups. An opportunity gap describes an often difficult to measure distance created by unequal and/or inequitable conditions that mediate individual effort and achievement.

Q: Can you describe the book you are editing on equity and expanded learning programs? 
A: The book and its authors explore innovative school-community partnerships that demonstrate how time can be expanded and reorganized to provide better learning opportunities in schools serving the nation’s most vulnerable young people. They are finding compelling evidence that expanded and redesigned learning time has real benefits for student achievement and growth, offers teachers more time to collaborate and to personalize instruction, gives working families a better match between their busy lives and their children’s school lives, and provides community organizations more opportunities to participate in youth development. The authors also advance compelling ideas about how to generate public support for these reforms, and how to promote changes in federal, state, and local education policy that will enable these reforms to become normal practice. It is scheduled for publication by the Harvard Education Press in the Fall of 2017.

You can read other blogs by the LIAS project by going to: 

  • Expanded Learning 360°/365 Project website
  • LIAS Blog Written for the California Afterschool Network

Let Youth Lead

Source: FAB Youth Philly By Guest Blogger, Rebecca Fabiano, Founder & President, FAB Youth Philly (This was originally published on the ...