On May 15, a number of partners joined together to host a conversation about out-of-school time, its importance and local efforts to build a coordinated system to ensure more students and families access high-quality summer and afterschool learning opportunities.
Mayor Mike Rawlings, Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles and a number of national foundations were on hand to lend their voices in support of increased investment in the learning that happens outside of traditional school hours. “The 80% of time spent outside of school needs to be filled with enriching experiences provided by a number of partners across the city,” said Mayor Rawlings.
The national data presented by Kari Pardoe, visiting from the Mott Foundation, drove home the point with this research showing that quality afterschool programs are proven to impact student attendance, behavior and coursework.
Pardoe also drew attention to out-of-school learning as a critical equity issue: due to the lack of affordable programs, high income families invest over $90,000 more than low-income families on afterschool enrichment by age 12, leading to a 6,000 hour gap in learning activities. (You can access Pardoe’s full presentation here.)
So, what is our community doing to address this challenge? The Mayor and Big Thought previewed the second summer for Dallas City of Learning, an online platform for youth to find the activities, camps and virtual learning opportunities that match their interests. Superintendent Miles and Ann Stone from the Wallace Foundation shared progress and lessons learned as the district has worked to improve its summer schools. Beyond these critical efforts, event organizers shared ongoing work to build a comprehensive out-of-school system that addresses advocacy and funding, community engagement, quality improvement and data sharing. “The system building work around OST that Dallas-area stakeholders are engaged in is absolutely critical for sustainable, long-term solutions to our society’s problems,” said Molly Clayton, Executive Director, Texas Partnership for Out of School Time (TXPOST).
This systems-building work, led by Dallas Afterschool, will take place in phases, beginning with four communities: Bachman Lake, Fair Park/South Dallas, South Oak Cliff and West Dallas. Stay tuned for a post that will share in more detail how the Commit! Partnership, Dallas Afterschool and Istation are working together with five providers in South Oak Cliff to confront summer learning loss.