Student Well-Being

Children & Families

By Linda Jacobson — July 12, 2000 2 min read

After Hours: In his campaign for the White House, Vice President Al Gore has said he wants to spend an additional $11 billion over 10 years on after- school programs. But a report from the Washington-based Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, argues that the supply of after-school programs already “far exceeds the demand for them.”

Written by Darcy Olsen, the institute’s director of education and child policy, the paper cites national surveys showing that enrollments in such programs average only 59 percent of capacity.

“The idea that current social conditions demand a greater expansion of after-school programs is undermined by the fact that many parents and children choose not to participate in them,” Ms. Olsen writes in the report, which was released last month.

She also argues that parents are capable of making after-school arrangements for their children without the government’s help.

And she cites statistics showing that only 2 percent of 5- to 12-year-olds regularly care for themselves after school. And even if they do, she says, it’s not for a long period of time.

She called funding for after-school programs, such as the U.S. Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers, a “down payment on a more expansive government-run school system.” That program’s budget stood at $453 million for the 2000 fiscal year.

State legislators could be more helpful to parents by giving them tuition tax credits that would allow them to select their children’s schools, Ms. Olsen argues.

The report also contends that there is no evidence to show that after-school programs improve academic achievement or keep children out of trouble.

“Practically speaking,” the author writes, "... juvenile crime seems to call for narrow, highly targeted crime-prevention efforts, not universal after-school programs for all children.”

Walter C. Farrell, a professor of social work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who runs after-school programs, called the Cato Institute report a position paper that is “interspersed with studies that are not central to the point being made.”

He said data on children in “self-care” are not very reliable because such information is self-reported, without any “hard, objective findings.”

“You don’t advance policy based on what people say,” said Mr. Farrell, who runs privately financed after-school programs for low- income minority children in Durham, N.C., and other locations throughout the state.

—Linda Jacobson

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the July 12, 2000 edition of Education Week


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
Educator-Driven EdTech Design: Help Shape the Future of Classroom Technology
Join us for a collaborative workshop where you will get a live demo of GoGuardian Teacher, including seamless new integrations with Google Classroom, and participate in an interactive design exercise building a feature based on
Content provided by GoGuardian
School & District Management Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: What Did We Learn About Schooling Models This Year?
After a year of living with the pandemic, what schooling models might we turn to as we look ahead to improve the student learning experience? Could year-round schooling be one of them? What about online
School & District Management Webinar What's Ahead for Hybrid Learning: Putting Best Practices in Motion
It’s safe to say hybrid learning—a mix of in-person and remote instruction that evolved quickly during the pandemic—is probably here to stay in K-12 education to some extent. That is the case even though increasing

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being What the Research Says How Does Sending a Child to School Change a Family's Risk of COVID-19?
In-person schooling that doesn't lead to outbreaks can still raise the risk of kids bringing the virus home, especially in poor families.
3 min read
On Sept. 24, 2020, distance learners are seen on a laptop held by teacher Kristen Giuliano who assists student Jane Wood, 11, in a seventh-grade social studies class at Dodd Middle School in Cheshire, Conn. A new study finds a family's risk of infection rose if they had a school-age student when schools re-started in person instruction.
Students, assisted by their teacher Kristen Giuliano, work remotely and in-person in a hybrid classroom earlier this year at Dodd Middle School in Cheshire, Conn.
Dave Zajac/Record-Journal via AP
Student Well-Being Teens Are Starting to Get Vaccinated. That's a Big Deal for Schools
Educators are now encouraging their oldest students to get the vaccine, with the hope that it will help normalize school operations.
10 min read
17-year-old cancer survivor Jordan Loughan receives a Pfizer vaccination at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Tuesday, March 23, 2021.
Seventeen-year-old cancer survivor Jordan Loughan receives a Pfizer vaccination for COVID-19 in Atlanta on March 23.
Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP
Student Well-Being Children as Young as 12 May Soon Be Able to Get Vaccinated
The Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is safe and effective for 12- to 15-year-olds, and that age group could be vaccinated before next school year.
6 min read
A clinical research nurse prepares to administer COVID-19 experimental vaccine to a volunteer at a clinic in London.
A clinical research nurse prepares to administer COVID-19 experimental vaccine to a volunteer at a clinic in London.
Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP-File
Student Well-Being Opinion How Can Students and Educators Make Sense of a Year of Loss?
Spiritual traditions offer tools for facing the past and shaping a better future, writes a scholar of religion.
Roger Brooks
5 min read
A student walks across a sunrise to a new beginning
Mary Haasdyk for Education Week