Guest blog: Why the afterschool learning context matters when using technology with at-risk students
Kamila Thigpen is the Digital Learning Policy and Advocacy Manager at Alliance for Excellent Education.
The nation’s 23.8 million minority students comprise nearly half of the school population, and many of them are underserved by their school systems. Try walking into one of these schools and you’ll notice very little changes in modern classrooms and those from more than a century ago. Although SMART Boards may have replaced black boards and a handful of computers may be visible around the room, in most cases there are few differences in the actual teaching and learning process.
After the school day and school year ends, disparities in access to technology are further compounded. Only 3 percent of teachers in high-poverty schools agree that “students have the digital tools they need to effectively complete assignments while at home,” compared to 52 percent of teachers in more affluent schools. As students get older and afterschool participation decreases, opportunities to engage in high-quality digital learning are few and far between for high-school aged students who need it most.
As you gear up for your Lights On Afterschool event this week, be sure to keep in mind the great photo opps you’ll have with your students, families and event guests—it could earn you $2,000!
Bright House Networks is once again helping us shine a light on the afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire learning and help working families with the Bright House Networks Photo Contest on Facebook.
From dancing to designing robots, we want to see all of the cool ways that afterschool programs engage kids. All you have to do is submit a photo of an afterschool activity that engages youth in your community. The photos with the top votes at the end of the public voting period will be eligible to win up to $2,000.
By Jodi Grant
For every child enrolled in an afterschool program, two more would enroll if they could, according to parents. That’s among the findings from our new survey, the 2014 edition of America After 3PM spanning 30,000 American households.
In all, 10.2 million children are in afterschool programs, up from 6.5 million in 2004. But the unmet demand for afterschool—parents who want to enroll their child in a program but say they don’t have a program available—has increased over the last decade as well, with the parents of a projected 19.4 million children now saying they would enroll their child in a program if one were available to them. Demand is especially high among low-income, African-American and Hispanic families.
Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, founder of After-School All-Stars, spoke with reporters about the data and commented:
“Due to the fact that most students come from homes where both parents are working, we have a duty to provide safe havens for our children during the crucial hours from 3-6 pm. Afterschool programs do remarkable things for our children, families and communities. Reams of data show it, and I’ve seen it in my own work. These programs help kids with homework, teach them teamwork, engage them in community service, pair them with mentors, help them to be physically fit, involve them in activities like rocketry and robotics, and much more.”
“Afterschool is a wise investment but, unfortunately, we’re not investing nearly enough,” Schwarzenegger added. “America After 3 PM shows that we are meeting only about one-third of the demand for afterschool programs. We need federal, state and local governments, philanthropies, and businesses to step up and provide the resources that will put us on the path to making afterschool available to all.”
Highlights from the new survey:
Being afterschool data geeks, we're terribly excited about the upcoming release of new America After 3PM research. And now we’ve got the Terminator on our team. This week, Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will help share the 2014 data with media and shine a light on the need for more investments in quality afterschool programs, just as programs across the nation get ready to showcase their offerings at Lights On Afterschool rallies on Oct. 23.
Gov. Schwarzenegger is a long-time champion of afterschool programs—he founded the After-School All-Stars, and spearheaded the successful passage of a ballot initiative in California to fund afterschool programs across the state. Last October, he visited the halls of Congress to urge leaders to preserve 21st Century Community Learning Center grant dollars for afterschool programs.
By Dan Gilbert
On Oct. 23, more than 1 million kids, educators, families and communities will come together at thousands of events all around the country to celebrate the 15th annual Lights On Afterschool! We're inviting you to join up with members of your community to raise awareness about the incredible value of learning experiences that take place outside of the school day and the importance of the partnerships that make them happen.
We know that when the school bell rings, kids take off in all different directions, but unfortunately more than 15 million kids are left alone and unsupervised after the school day ends. The parents of more than eight million of these kids would like for their children to participate in an afterschool program, but those children don’t have the opportunity to take part in activities that could help them build upon what they learn during the school day and pursue their own interests.
This year, we're once again thrilled to partner with Educator Innovator to highlight the meaningful, engaging and fun learning that’s happening in schools, libraries, museums and community-based organizations after the school day ends. As part of our partnership, we’re excited to offer all of our Lights On Afterschool event hosts the opportunity to receive a digital badge for their efforts organizing their events in Educator Innovator’s online platform. The facilitator badge is a great way to be recognized for all of the time and effort invested in organizing your event!
Earlier this week Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) announced plans to introduce the Community Partnerships in Education Act, which will help children and families by investing in high-quality afterschool systems nationwide. The bill supports quality afterschool programs by incentivizing and requiring strong partnerships between schools and community-based organizations in an effort to increase student engagement in programs that support education and career readiness.
In an event announcing the bill at Nathan Bishop Middle School in Providence, R.I., Rep. Cicilline, who has served on the Afterschool Alliance board of directors since his days as mayor of Providence, stated “Afterschool programs are one of the single most effective ways to keep children safe outside of school and on track for success. When young people succeed it leads to stronger communities and a stronger economy. The Community Partnerships in Education Act will help keep children safe and ensure children have access to enriching activities out of school.”