Weighing In on More Time for Learning

By Nora Fleming — February 28, 2012 1 min read
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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 Minnesota Youth Intervention Programs, adding that youth-intervention programs can be particularly powerful. “Youth-intervention programs are an important part of the solution. Generally provided outside of the school setting, these programs meet the needs of youth who have lost sight of the need to learn and falling out of favor with the broader community.”

Others seem to be more hesitant to agree.

According to an opinion piece in the Chicago Sun-Times, some parents in Chicago aren’t ready to have all the district’s schools shift to a longer calendar next year. As you may remember, some schools in the city have piloted an expanded learning model this year, with a plan to go districtwide by next school year.

“Without careful planning, adequate funding, and real meaningful dialogue among all stakeholders, nothing of significance for our children can come from the initiative,” the piece reads. “Many parents believe the media aren’t giving the issue the coverage it deserves and are failing to ask critical questions about funding, staffing, and safety.”

And in other news in the out-of-school/expanded learning realm:
Hilton Worldwide, the corporate organization that backs the global hotel chain, is partnering with Global Kids, a nonprofit that runs out-of-school-time programs focused on global learning in the District of Columbia and New York City, to support its programs. Hilton Worldwide staff will begin volunteering in the D.C. locations initially, providing career mentoring and service-learning activities. Global Kids reaches more than 14,000 students each year.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Beyond School blog.