Monday, August 13, 2007

Fewer Extra-curricular Offerings for Urban Students

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that students in urban Milwaukee high schools have significantly fewer after-school options compared to their peers in suburban schools. The article points to academic pressures from NCLB, but I expect we could all come up with other reasons as well. Students who have to work after school to pay bills, teachers who don't live in the neighborhood, and limited facilities are among a few that I would suggest.

The consequences of these differences are more than just less fun for kids at urban schools. There is less connection to the school when you are only there for classes. There are fewer opportunities to explore career options and non-academic interests.

Options for addressing these problems vary. Connecting community-based organizations (such as Boys and Girls Clubs) can help with staff and facilities. It may even be appropriate to look at options to pay students to participate in clubs. Often high school clubs can provide services for younger students, e.g., a FIRST robotics team mentors a Lego League team, and the students could be paid for these.

Extra-curriculars are critically important for youth development. A minimum score on the SAT or ACT is not sufficient preparation for college - students have to have passions, whether they are artistic, scientific, service-oriented, etc.

Link to article

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