Historically, Philadelphia’s mix of “out-of-school time” programs was run with little coordination or sharing of expertise. All that is changing. With support from the Wallace Foundation, advocates are attempting to map every program in the city, collect useful details about each, and create a profile of the children and youth who attend.
To give the neediest children a better shot at high-quality early learning opportunities, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made preschool expansion a focal point of his agenda. Early learning advocates laud the mayor for his plans, but still wonder if the city can reach its ambitious goal.
As it seeks a major federal grant to expand preschool, Illinois officials submit a bid that promises to double the state’s investment in early learning—despite the state’s ongoing and massive fiscal problems and a downward trend in early education funding in recent years.
In a national ranking, California is at the top in providing quality after-school programs based on the percentage of students involved, parent satisfaction and other factors, according to a survey by the Afterschool Alliance, an advocacy group for expanded learning.
Child-parent centers that enroll children from preschool through third grade and require parental participation have been proven to have long-term academic benefits for children. To expand them, Chicago plans to borrow millions of dollars through a so-called “social impact bond” that pays back investors if children reach certain achievement benchmarks.
During a panel discussion with a group of teachers from a broad range of Chicago schools, the overuse of standardized testing during class time and the detrimental impact on student learning emerged as a major topic.