Report Roundup

November 01, 2000 5 min read

After-School Programs Prompt Policy Debate

Two recent reports take different approaches to the question of children’s after-school hours.

For More Information

The report, “America’s After-School Choice: The Prime Time for Juvenile Crime, or Youth Enrichment and Achievement,” is available from Fight Crime. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

A group of law-enforcement officials points out in its report that youth crime and victimization peak during the after-school hours. But well-designed after- school programs—including those for middle and high school students—have been shown to keep youngsters out of danger, it says.

Prepared by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a Washington-based advocacy organization, the report presents crime statistics and argues for more high-quality programs.

Violent crimes committed by juveniles jump during the after-school hours, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation included in the Fight Crime report. The report also notes that 16- and 17-year-olds are at the highest risk of being in an automobile crash between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

The report brings together what the authors see as evidence of how appropriate after-school programs can benefit students from the elementary grades through high school.

For More Information

The report, “12-Hour School Days? Why Government Should Leave After School Arrangements to Parents,” is available from the Cato Institute. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

Meanwhile, a report from the Cato Institute, a Washington-based public-policy think tank, says that President Clinton’s proposal for the largest-ever federal expenditure on after- school programs is the wrong approach.

Darcy Olsen, the institute’s director of education and child policy, argues that expanding schools’ responsibilities is unnecessary because the supply of such programs far exceeds the demand. She also cites what she sees as a lack of evidence that opening more after-school programs will raise academic achievement or reduce delinquency.

The report says state legislatures should adopt a system of universal tax credits for tuition that would give parents latitude to select their children’s schools, with or without after-school programs, instead of paying for the expansion of public schools.

—Linda Jacobson & Adrienne D. Coles

Special Education Referrals

The rate at which New York City students were referred for special education declined between 1996 and 1999, but that rate declined less for black students than they did for Asian, Latino, or white students, a study has found.

As a result, black students were more likely to be referred for special education—particularly speech therapy and classes for emotionally disturbed children—than white students, it found. The Metropolitan Parent Center of Sinergia Inc., a not-for-profit agency based in New York that works with developmentally disabled people, conducted the analysis, which is based on data collected by the city’s board of education from 1996 to 1999.

“Race, Language, and Special Education in New York City,” free, from Sinergia, 15 W. 65th St., 6th Floor, New York, NY 10023; (212) 496- 1300.

—Michelle Galley

Hispanics’ Schooling

The lack of educational attainment by Hispanics in the San Francisco Bay area needs urgent attention, says a report by the San Francisco-based Hispanic Community Foundation.

For More Information

The report, “The State of Latino Education in the San Francisco Bay Area: A Crisis in Student Performance,” is available from the Hispanic Community Foundation.(Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.) Alternatively, the report can be ordered, for $5, from the Hispanic Community Foundation, (415) 981-8421.

The 35-page report bases its conclusion that Latinos are faring poorly educationally on an analysis of K-12 students’ scores on California’s standardized test, dropout rates, and information about the kinds of courses students are taking to prepare for college, among other measures.

It says, for example, that 65 percent of Hispanic students attending schools in the Bay Area are performing below grade level. Recommended are 12 strategies to raise achievement, including mentoring programs with Latino role models and increasing parental involvement in schools.

—Mary Ann Zehr

School Vouchers

For More Information

The report, “Vouchers: A Trap, Not a Choice,” is available from the Applied Research Center. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

School vouchers, such as those envisioned by Proposition 38 in California, will increase racial inequality in public schools, argues a report from the Applied Research Center in Oakland, Calif.

The measure, which will appear on the Nov. 7 ballot, would leave a majority of poor and minority students in substandard schools, it says, while giving affluent families subsidies for private education. It says the proposal has no safeguards to prevent discriminatory practices such as private schools’ denying access to voucher students based on their academic records, disciplinary records, inability to pay full tuition, or lack of fluency in English.

The report also surveys the results of voucher programs in other states and outlines what it asserts is the “racist history” of school vouchers.

—Adrienne D. Coles

Libraries and Achievement

Massachusetts’ public school libraries are in “deplorable condition” overall, says a recent report, which stresses the correlation between students’ scores on state tests and the presence and quality of public school libraries.

For More Information

The report, “School Libraries and MCAS Scores: Making the Connection,” is available from Simmons College. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

The study from the graduate school of library and information science at Simmons College found that, on average, scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tended to be higher in schools with library programs at all levels.

The highest-achieving students attended schools with good school libraries.

The effects of adequate libraries held true even when students’ socioeconomic status was taken into account, the report says.

The findings of the 56-page report are based on 1998 MCAS scores and a statewide survey about school library programs sent to administrators.

James Baughman, the director of the school library program at Simmons, located in Boston, calls for state aid for school libraries for local schools and a reassessment by the state board of education of its role in allocating and providing leadership for school libraries.

Currently, Massachusetts provides no state funding for school libraries, notes the report, which says the state ranks 50th among the states in average circulation of school library materials to students.

—Adrienne D. Coles