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San Diego to Launch Homework Help Program at City Libraries

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The city of San Diego is funding a new after-school program that will provide homework help for students in grades K-8 at public libraries, starting in the 2014-15 school year.

The Do Your Homework @ the Library program will create homework help centers, staffed by a learning coordinator and volunteer coaches, at 18 of 36 branches of the San Diego Public Library. The homework helpers will be on hand 14 hours a week, on Mondays through Thursdays and Saturdays. The program will run for 36 weeks during the school year.

The library branches were chosen for the program because they're located near schools with low standardized test scores, where students might benefit from extra help, Fox News reported.

Students already do their homework at public library branches, Marina Claudio-Perez, the youth and family services program manager at the San Diego Public Library, told me.

"We offer a safe place for kids to go and access to computers and printers," she said.

San Diego's libraries also provide free access to online homework assistance from tutoring company Brainfuse Inc.

But the new program makes assistance less of an ad-hoc affair by designating a staff member with the task of coordinating homework help, in addition to having librarians who can locate books and other resources for projects.

"There's nothing to beat a full-service homework center where you have a live person," Claudio-Perez said.

"I commend our city officials for recognizing the importance of libraries and the positive impacts they have on the success of students, families, and neighborhoods," Superintendent Cindy Marten said in an email. "Strong reading skills form the basis for successful learning in all subjects. Libraries can serve as the centers for building, advancing, and nurturing the skills that effect an individual's learning from early childhood through adulthood."

The San Diego Unified School District has also allocated funds in its 2014-15 to increase library hours on elementary school campuses, she added.

Public libraries serve as critical learning spaces for urban students in many cities. The following video piece, recently published by New York magazine, explores how New York City's public libraries have evolved into de facto community centers, including providing activities for children and places for students to study after school.

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