After-school programs are a cost-effective way to boost student achievement, reduce juvenile crime and help overstressed working parents

After-school programs are a cost-effective way to boost student achievement, reduce juvenile crime and help overstressed working parents. Yet a new study finds that the number of after-school slots continues to lag far behind parents’ demand. Even in these hard economic times, it should be possible to narrow the gap.

There is good news in the study — “America After 3” — by the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group. It reports a big increase in the number of schoolchildren participating in after-school programs: 8.4 million youngsters compared with 6.5 million in 2004. Parents say they are generally satisfied with the programs their children attend.

But the most striking and disturbing finding is the large number of latchkey children — children left alone and unsupervised at the end of the regular school day: 15.1 million — more than a quarter of America’s schoolchildren and an 800,000 increase from 2004. That number includes 4 percent of elementary school students and 30 percent of middle school students who are on their own until their parents return home.

Parents of 18.5 million students say they would enroll their children in an after-school program if one were available. These numbers represent a huge missed opportunity. A majority of publicly financed after-school programs serve low-income students. They offer help with schoolwork, sports activities and other enrichment known to translate into improved school attendance and higher graduation rates and lower rates of teenage pregnancy, drinking, delinquency and drug use.

During the 2008 campaign, then-Senator Barack Obama promised that he would double the financing for after-school programs under the No Child Left Behind Act. His budget plan unveiled in February called for no increase in the current $1.1 billion appropriation. The House has approved a spending bill that adds another $50 million for after-school programs. The Senate should at least agree to that.

President Obama, his education secretary, Arne Duncan, and Congress must all acknowledge that a lot more is needed — and quickly come up with a plan to increase financing for quality after-school programs.

Advertisements

One Response to “After-school programs are a cost-effective way to boost student achievement, reduce juvenile crime and help overstressed working parents”

  1. Dropout Rates Says:

    Great article! You can find all kinds of education statistics on our site.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: