February 2012 Archives

Some recent commentary/opinion pieces weigh in on the need for more time to help close the achievement gap. An opinion article in on the Minneapolis Post site today says we don't have an achievement gap as much as we have a "learning gap," arguing that education leaders have largely ignored the importance of out-of-school experiences to improve student outcomes. "Learning beyond the classroom prepares youth for learning in the classroom. To focus on the classroom as if it exists in a vacuum will never allow us to close the learning gap," writes Paul Meunier, director of services with the ...


Orange County, Calif., Superintendent William Habermehl said his schools should add at least 15 days to the academic year to better prepare students for future careers, particularly in the STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, reports a recent article. While a number of schools in California have cut back on days the past few years as a cost-saving measure, Habermehl said these districts are "going in the wrong direction." "We need to find new ways to compete with countries like Japan, Korea, and China, where students are going to school for 200 to 220 days a year," Habermehl is quoted...


A teacher in Minnesota is using an after-school program to try to combat girls' cliquey behavior in middle school, or what she and others call "mean girls syndrome," reports an article this week. Lisa Torbenson, a candidate for Minnesota's teacher of the year, says the idea for the all-girls after-school program spun from realizing how present backstabbing, gossiping, exclusion, and other negative behavior was in girls' peer groups, particularly in the middle years. "I wasn't going for the group of girls without friends, but the ones who do have friends, but they're in constant stress because of the drama that ...


While President Obama's fiscal 2013 budget proposal calls for an increase of $1.7 billion in funding for the Department Education, the funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program has leveled off to $1.15 billion. As most of you know, the federal 21st CCLC program provides grants to organizations and schools to provide academically enriching programs in the out-of-school hours. Currently, 21st CCLC funds 8,900 centers that serve roughly 1.5 million students. The budget also proposes to open 21st CCLC grants to schools that want to provide expanded learning time, or added time to their ...


The Los Angeles Unified School District's board of education will likely be making some tough decisions on next year's budget today, including whether to eliminate the district's Beyond the Bell Youth Services division that serves 42,000 students in after-school programs. The LAUSD school board, trying to combat a $543 million deficit, will be making a number of difficult cuts in the coming months before approving the 2012-13 budget in June. There are already proposals on the table for cuts in adult education, magnet schools, gifted programs, and arts classes, in addition to significant reductions to programs provided through the ...


Voluntary after-school programs on drug and alcohol use could be successful in curbing alcohol use in middle school students, says a recent RAND Corp. study. The study evaluates CHOICE, a voluntary after-school program that instructs middle school students about drugs and alcohol, ways to resist using both, and what harmful impacts they can have. More than 9,500 students at 16 middle schools were included in the study, which found students were less likely to use drugs and alcohol after exposure to the program. While more research is needed, the results of the study show promising findings, said Elizabeth D'Amico, ...


A rural Missouri school district outside St. Louis reports success in implementing a four day week with longer school days, writes St. Louis Today. According to the article, the district, Montgomery County, is saving $150,000 by moving to a shorter week. But while the district is cutting costs in janitorial services and school lunches, instruction time isn't being scrapped: students are in school 50 minutes longer per day and spend more time in school year-round. District officials (and students and parents) have already reported a decline in student and teacher absences and improved attentiveness in students. Montgomery County is ...


Nine cities will receive a total of $7.8 million in grants to strengthen the after-school programs in their locales, the Wallace Foundation reported this week. The cities—Baltimore, Denver, Ft. Worth, Texas, Grand Rapids, Mich., Jacksonville, Fla., Louisville, Ky., Nashville, Tenn., Philadelphia, and St. Paul, Minn.—all have half their student populations on free and reduced-price lunch plans and were selected given the probability of scaling up their existing after-school infrastructure. These cities were also included as part of a report on 27 cities that were heavily promoting and improving after-school programming in their communities, published by the National...


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