The NYT comments that “It was just a few years ago that New York got serious about expanding high quality after-school programs that complement classroom learning with academic, arts, sports and other meaningful activities. Participation has risen steadily, and the programs have gotten high marks. Many school officials see a link between these after-school activities and improvements in test scores and attendance, reduced dropout rates and college enrollment.” [To this we would add that higher social capital of those involved predicts higher lifetime earnings, and better health and happiness.]
The NYT talks about how over 200 such K-12 programs in N.Y. state are now in danger of being closed or drastically cut. Over 100 of these are in NYC, serving 20,000 children.
In the national and state rush toward school accountability under No Child Left Behind Act, the importance of these after-school programs has been grossly neglected. The NYT reports that the NY State “Education Department seems to have made commitments based on overly optimistic projections of federal money, and in February, it told after-school providers that grants they had received for four and a half years would not be renewed.” We hope, as does the NYT, that NY state fulfills its promise, and that other states recognize the value of these programs to building critical social and civic skills and social capital that students will take with them throughout their lives that will be equally valuable to knowing their 3 Rs.
For a discussion of the importance of social capital to youth, see Friend in Need.