Media Coverage

Expanded Learning Time Panel Discusses How Community Partners Can Make an Impact for Students

“Extended learning may be the only reason some young people come to school.” – Jonathan Brice, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, US Department of Education.

On May 19, the Center for American Progress (CAP) hosted a panel, All Hands on Deck: How Expanded Learning Time Schools and Community Partnerships Work Together to Improve Outcomes for Students, to discuss how expanded learning time (ELT) and community partnerships can create a positive impact for students and schools.

The event featured remarks from Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President of Policy at CAP, and Jonathan Brice, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, US Department of Education. The panel was moderated by Jennifer Davis, Co-Founder and President of the National Center of Time and Learning, and included Eric Schwarz, Co-Founder and CEO of Citizen Schools, Megan Bird, Managing Director of Program for Citizen Schools Massachusetts, Chris Caruso, ExpandED Schools Senior Vice President, and Kerri Ayn Seow,  Third Grade Teacher, Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School.

The panelists discussed how community organizations, such as Citizen Schools, have partnered closely with schools and their administration to make an impact for students, teachers, and the community at large with an expanded day. The additional hours allow for more time for academics, more enriching activities, and more time for teacher collaboration and planning.

“ELT gives me the chance to teach what I wasn’t able to during class and the extra activities enrich my lessons,” Kerri Ayn Seow.

Read more about the event here.

 

 

NY Daily News: Citizen Schools Students Get a Boost from Google Volunteers

“One of the things people don’t talk about is the inspiration gap,” said Kamar Samuels, Principal of Bronx Writing Academy, in a recent interview with NY Daily News. “My students don’t necessarily have as many role models, and so one of the things that Citizen Schools brings is a core group of high-functioning, high-achieving adults to help students, to inspire students, to make a clear transition between what’s happening in their classrooms and what it could mean for their life. If you’re thinking, ‘How is math applicable to my life?’ Who better to show you than a Google software engineer?”

A senior account manager at Google watches Ethan, a student at Isaac Newton Middle School for Math and Science, maneuver a robot he built during a  presentation at Google's Manhattan office.

A senior account manager at Google watches Ethan, a student at Isaac Newton Middle School for Math and Science, maneuver a robot he built during a presentation at Google’s Manhattan office.

Volunteers from companies like Google help students see how what they’re learning in school now relates to a college degree and a successful career. Expanded learning time (ELT) opens up new experiences such as building a robot or writing a computer program that wouldn’t be available to students otherwise.

“When they want a program to do something and they finally get it working, it’s totally exhilarating,” said Alexandra Taylor, a software engineer at Google, in the article. “They get the same moments of frustration and satisfaction that I do in my job everyday.”

Read the entire piece, Getting a Boost From Google: Citizen Schools makes STEM education relevant to at-risk students, at NY Daily News.

Crain’s New York Business: Bringing Charter Innovations To Traditional Schools

The charter school revolution of the last few decades has transformed the conversation about education reform in America’s large cities, including New York. Data suggests that simply organizing a school through a charter agreement does not guarantee greater student achievement. But some charter schools have used their flexibility to test innovations that seem to make a measurable difference.

8719556047_0705f56835_bAnd as Citizen Schools’ New York Executive Director Kathrine Mott writes in an op-ed in Crain’s New York Business, the public school system overall should look to what high-performing charters have done in deciding what resources to invest in.

One such variable is the length of the school day.

“Charter schools and traditional public schools alike have implemented this approach in New York City,” she writes. “We are already seeing evidence that this can improve academic outcomes.”

With the right investment from policy makers, public schools can implement the innovations that work. Schools that have formed partnerships with non-profits like Citizen Schools, for instance, have been able to extend their learning time by several hours each day, and–more importantly–enable students to improve at rates comparable to the highest performing charter schools.

“There is a heated debate in New York City about how public resources are allotted to charter schools,” she writes. “Regardless of where one stands on this issue, we can find common ground when it comes to bringing some of the innovative aspects of charter schools into the city’s public schools. A good place to start is with a longer school day.”

Read the full op-ed, A Charter Lesson To Lift Public Schools, at Crain’s New York.

Nine-Hour School Day is the Norm, and a National Model, at Oakland Middle School

In Susan Frey’s recent article on EdSource, also picked up by the Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times, and The Hechinger Report, Citizen Schools’ Expanded Learning Time (ELT) partnership with a middle school in Oakland, CA, is highlighted as a model that works.

Elmhurst Community Prep’s principal, Kilian Betlach, describes his vision to close the opportunity gap for low-income students by bringing a variety of experiences to life. Partnering with Citizen Schools is a powerful alternative to traditional after-school programs, he says, because it allows him to create an integrated longer school day filled with academic support and enrichment like apprenticeships:

Rodzhaney Sledge, dressed in the light-blue school uniform, is new to the school as a 6th grader, but she already understands how the after-school part of the program supports her academic work. For example, she took a class called Tools for Peace, where she learned to meditate. Meditation, she said, has helped calm her so she can focus on academics. She also appreciates the help with her homework she receives for at least an hour each day.

 

“I don’t understand the students who have problems staying after school until 5 p.m.,” she said. “You can do your homework and don’t have to do it when you get home. You’re free.”

 

Betlach and community partners – primarily Citizen Schools, a national nonprofit that focuses on providing quality expanded learning programs for middle school students in low-income communities – have cobbled together federal, state, local and private funding to support the unique program…

 

What makes the expanded school day economically possible is the school’s reliance on AmeriCorps teaching fellows like [Ashur] Bratt. The fellows are funded by the federal government and receive special training from Citizen Schools staff on how to teach in an urban environment. They are involved in both the academic morning program and the after-school classes from 2 to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, helping to provide a seamless transition for students. The schedule also allows the regular academic teachers an hour each afternoon, from 2 to 3 p.m., to work collaboratively and plan.

 

In exchange, the AmeriCorps fellows will have earned their intern teaching credential at the end of their two years at Elmhurst.

 

Edgard Vidrio, a sixth grade history teacher who joined the Elmhurst staff this year, said he appreciates the variety of opportunities the program is offering his students…Vidrio says the young, dynamic AmeriCorps teachers develop deep relationships with their students. If a student in his class is upset, he or she will often ask to talk to one of the teaching fellows, Vidrio said…

 

AmeriCorps teaching fellow Jeannette Aames, who is finishing her second year and hopes to teach high school math in Oakland Unified in the fall, said teaching a math intervention class was her most rewarding experience at Elmhurst. The class of three girls and nine “rowdy boys” could not grasp the concept of negative numbers.

 

“Direct instruction didn’t work with them,” Aames said, requiring her to develop more hands-on approaches to teach the concept…

 

The students also get opportunities through Citizen Schools to participate in apprenticeships with “citizen teachers,” any adult from the broader Bay Area community who has a passion, such as robotics or radio reporting, to share with the students. The citizen teachers receive basic training on how to teach from Citizen Schools staff before they begin the after-school class.

 

The citizen teacher is partnered with an AmeriCorps fellow who assists the teacher with handling classroom management. At the end of the apprenticeship, the students make a presentation (called a “WOW!”) to their parents and business and community leaders, showcasing what they have learned.

 

In addition, local companies invite students to their offices for apprenticeship experiences. At Pandora, students learned how to make an app.

 

“It was a video game where you dodge fireballs,” Betlach recalled.

 

The positive school culture that Frey captures is the result not of a miracle education reform formula, but of a committed collaboration of human beings, caring and working really hard.  The students, AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows, and teachers whose voices fill the story bring that to life better than most research briefs and infographics. We’re proud every day to serve alongside Principal Betlach, Mr. Vidrio, and the rest of the ECP community, meditating, dodging fireballs, and dreaming big!

Apply to the AmeriCorps Teaching Fellowship today and you can join next year’s team at ECP!

Read the full article on EdSourceOakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times, or The Hechinger Report.

Huffington Post: US2020 STEM Mentoring Effort Gathers Momentum

Reposted from the Huffington Post: Impact– US2020 STEM Mentoring Effort Gathers Momentum. By Eric Schwarz, CEO and Co-Founder of Citizen Schools, and Executive Chairman of US2020. Posted on November 12, 2013.

US2020 STEM Mentoring Effort Gathers Momentum

The call was answered. Last month 52 cities self-organized to compete in a nation-wide competition designed to address one of our nation’s great challenges. I am honored today to announce the finalists of the US2020 STEM Mentoring City Competition.

Read more…