A Place to Grow and Learn

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 A Place to Grow and Learn

This Wallace Perspective has described our working hypothesis for expanding and improving OST opportunities. While we are confident that this approach holds considerable promise, we also recognize that it is still in its infancy and there are many unanswered questions about its complexities and effectiveness. A key purpose of this report is to prompt further discussion and debate about the validity of this approach.

Here are some of those unresolved questions and issues:

  1. How often and deeply must children take part in OST to start seeing benefits, and how will we measure whether programs are achieving those benefits?
  2. What are the most difficult barriers to increasing participation and what are the best strategies to overcome them?
  3. What outcomes can the public expect from OST participation? Has the potential of OST been overstated?
  4. What are the costs of sustaining high-quality programming, and what are the potential tradeoffs of funding only programs of demonstrable quality?
  5. How should cities identify and address the most serious organizational shortcomings of OST providers, and where will the resources come from to do so?
  6. How can cities forge and sustain more productive bonds between schools and OST providers?
  7. How might the growing interest in extending the school day affect city plans to build OST systems that operate outside of public education?
  8. What will it take to significantly improve the staffing of OST programs given the limited available resources?
  9. Are there other approaches that might be as effective, or more so, than the coordinated approach discussed in this paper in promoting wide-scale improvements in OST?

Whatever the answers to these questions, they need to be driven by the idea that providing children and youth with wholesome places for learning beyond the school day is a worthy goal for all cities to pursue. “We’d like every teenager in Chicago to do something meaningful, purposeful and fun,” says Chicago’s Maggie Daley, wife of the city’s mayor and co-founder of After School Matters. “Five-and-a-half hours is not enough.”

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