Ask Dr. Blank: How do we assure that schools, after-school programs and community-based settings are dynamic places that surround children with opportunities to be connected and exposed to the world and not isolated and segregated from it?

As your question indicates, after-school programs offer a fabulous opportunity to serve as dynamic centers that can extend children’s experiences well beyond the traditional curricula. But they can only do this if the teachers and the programs are provided with adequate support on a range of dimensions (salaries, training, resources, respect, etc.) Unfortunately the past 15 years have been marked by almost diametrically opposed conditions. Budgets have been cut, teachers have been relentlessly criticized, and resources have been eliminated, and so on. All this has been happening with formal schools that are mandated to exist and so must receive some funding—albeit far below what is needed. After school services are not required to receive any support. They are seen as “extras.” That’s why many after school programs are private with parents paying for the services. It is great to ponder what could and should be done to use both the school and the after school hours to enrich our children’s lives.  That does not mean we are confined to the current unfavorable climate. A hallmark of our society is the way in which situations can change very quickly. Hopefully, that will happen in education and we will then be able to introduce the programs that will achieve the wonderful goals you have cited. 

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Marion Blank

Marion Blank

Dr. Marion Blank is a world-renowned psychologist and expert on the development of literacy and language in children as well as the creator of the “Six Skill Integrated Method” for teaching children to read. Prior to creating the Reading Kingdom online literacy program, she created and directed the Light on Literacy Program at Columbia University. She has authored dozens of peer-reviewed articles and books and developed numerous award winning teaching and assessment programs. Dr. Blank is also a recipient of the Upton Sinclair Award which honors individuals who have made a significant contribution to education.
Marion Blank