To the Editor:
Few would disagree with Robert Stonehill and Fritz Edelstein, the authors of the online Commentary “‘Expanded Learning Opportunities': Re-Branding ‘After School’ for the 21st Century” (Feb. 4, 2009), that we should think about all the ways children learn so that we can make sound choices about how we teach, what we teach, who teaches, and when. The groundbreaking “A New Day for Learning” report and initiative of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation is invaluable in helping us do just that.
But at a time when resources are scant and the unmet need is enormous, when Americans understand “after school” to mean learning opportunities of many kinds provided in various ways at different times, and when the public has embraced after-school programs and all that they offer, let’s not spend precious time and resources re-branding a movement that has built enormous public support.
The Afterschool Alliance found in a recent survey that 89 percent of respondents said after-school programs were important, and that 76 percent wanted the new Congress and their newly elected state and local officials to increase funding for them. With such numbers, we shouldn’t spend our time on an academic argument about terminology and hyphens. Let’s instead recognize “after school” as a cornerstone of extended and expanded learning opportunities and work together to find resources to build on its success.
Parents rally around “after-school programs,” which have momentum with school boards, state legislatures, Congress, and the White House. Let’s not reach for a marketing solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.
A version of this article appeared in the February 25, 2009 edition of Education Week as ‘After School': Don’t Waste Time On Terminology and Hyphens