Middle School After School Programs: the Risk of Cutting Back Expanded Learning
At Green Dot Public Schools, we view after school programs as an extension of the academic day. Many of our students are entering our schools significantly behind grade level. While we strategically schedule classes to provide appropriate interventions, our after school programs provide middle school and high school students with a space for additional support and academic enrichment. This is why we refer to our after school programs as expanded learning. We are joining the movement throughout California to bring together all learning experiences informal and formal, before and after school that develop the academic, social, emotional, and physical needs or interests of students.
Providing Academic Support and Safe Spaces
In addition to providing space for academic support, Green Dot views expanded learning programs as an opportunity for extended safety. According to the After School Alliance, students are most likely to become victims of violent crime, to be involved in accidents, and to engage in other harmful behavior on weekdays between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. Thus, we work with community partners to build safe, hands-on, engaging, student-centered, and results-driven learning experiences throughout the school year.
In our schools in California, we couldn’t provide these opportunities without our partner organizations, which include arc, Boys and Girls Club of Carson, and the J.K. Livin Foundation. Their staff and support have become an important presence on our campuses and in our communities.
“The arc program at my school does a great job at encompassing a wide range of programming that engages different students,” says Ánimo Western English Language Arts teacher Briana Meneses-Sullivan. “Just by conversations my students have in my class, I can tell that arc effectively creates an environment that serves the diverse interests of students as they are always excited to participate.”
Green Dot works with these partner organizations to provide academic support in areas like homework assistance and tutoring. The programs support students academically while also providing enrichment opportunities in the arts, life skills, healthy choices, physical fitness, and leadership development. “I love coming to arc every day because the staff are all nice, they help me with my homework, and make me feel safe,” said Ánimo Westside sixth grader Simar Singh.
What’s at Stake
Green Dot California is excited to have recently been awarded a grant that helps sustain these programs for the next five years at our high schools, but in order to do the same for our middle school programs, we need continued state funding.
California State Senator Connie Leyva introduced Senate Bill 78 earlier this year to do just that. SB 78 seeks to increase funding for the After School Education and Safety (ASES) program, and would include ongoing funding as well as minimum wage increases, to ensure that programs remain solvent. “When 67,000 students could potentially lose access to after school programs, I firmly believe that it is vital for state leaders to back efforts to reinforce these successful programs,” said Senator Leyva in a press release.
Over 700 Green Dot middle school students participate in our expanded learning programs on a daily basis. Additional funding proposed by SB 78 would ensure that programs at our middle schools are also fully staffed and able to serve our communities.
SB 78 would make sure that countless families in California don’t lose programs that provide their children with crucial academic assistance, enrichment opportunities, as well as social and emotional support. Our educators and students know how important it is to invest in expanded learning for all.
“Our parents need access to quality, affordable after school programs that provide enrichment activities and opportunities for students to continue to evolve socially, and to be able to meet and become positive role models,” said Ánimo Phillis Wheatley Special Education teacher Hugo Estrada. “This is what arc represents for our school and communities.”
SB78 will be addressed by the Senate Budget Subcommittee this month. More than ever your voice is needed to ensure that California does not lose the programs that serve working families and provide vital learning opportunities for students, show your support today and tell your local officials how you feel about after-school programs.
Join the Campaign to Save Middle School After School Programs