Post pandemic learning-loss has been a hot topic point for teaching staff, families, and nationwide education advocates. Over $13.2 billion from the CARES act has been allocated to elementary and secondary schools to address this challenge (https://oese.ed.gov/…/elementary-secondary-school…/). A recent study by FutureEd (https://www.future-ed.org/financial-trends-in-local…/) suggests that U.S. schools are on track to spend more than $1.5 billion of their recovery funds on afterschool programs. A recent Proof Point article by The Hechinger Report proposed that the funding will be not as beneficial as the government suggest. https://hechingerreport.org/proof-points-1-5-billion-in…/) They offer specific points in defense of their statements. We see counter points to each. We rebuttal in an upcoming blog. Here we offer our top-note sentiments.
We, as a CTO Remix team, were extremely disheartened by the negativity of the article, the e-blast that accompanied the, and the pessimistic view on OST activities, those that attend, and those that are running it. We fully acknowledge the challenges the OST field faces but stand by the research about the opportunities that come from high-quality OST activities, the staff that orchestrates them, and the young people that regularly attend them.
The way to help learning loss, as the Hechinger Report author notes, is not by increasing a school day, lengthening the amount of homework, or even requiring another year of academics. More of the same is not the answer. It is about building coordinated alliances between the school and multitude of community organizations that will allow for increased student involvement and constructive, organized, skill building programs that are blended with academics. The funding that the government is providing for these out-of-school time organizations will help with obtaining and maintaining high-quality programs with high attendance. But, to have lasting effects, it must be coupled with a smart investments in infrastructure – finding, categorizing, connecting, supporting, and leveraging the people, programs, data, and resources needed to knit together a cohesive, community ecosystem.