I think it's fair to say that most kids could use more scaffolding and support, commitment and confidence, practice and purpose, delight and disguise when it comes to writing. Writing scores are lower than math scores nationwide and our texting/typing/scrolling/swiping youth aren't living for the sharpened pencils of days gone by.
I believe afterschool is the answer to equality in education because disguised learning is not just possible, it's thoughtfully encouraged and turned into fun right before students' eyes. That's the stunning brilliance of afterschool educators!
Somehow the problem hasn't been solved between the bells, yet we know that college admissions directors and employers say the number one problem with applicants is their writing. No beginning, middle or end—and little capacity to communicate big ideas. Now, layer on top of students' general fear of writing a thick sheet of xenophobia and racism that makes learning particularly stressful and scary for an enormous population of English learners, so many of whom attend afterschool programs daily.
Regardless of our personal political views, we can likely all agree that these are not ideal times for immigrants, children of immigrants, refugees or even American-born children of citizens who were once immigrants. We all know the importance of out-of-school time programs and their role in creating safe, engaging and fun learning spaces for all students. They are very often crucial in helping English learners improve their language skills, feel "a part of" and adapt to the cultural codes of their new communities.
We all know every student is more than a score and every English learner deserves a chance at having a leg up on literacy, especially since they're tested more than other students. ALL STUDENTS OF ALL AGES desperately need to improve their writing, speaking and listening skills—and they need to do it in a safe environment where grades are not the focus and numerical assessment isn't defining.
In afterschool hours, youth have meaningful experiences.
When students are inspired by meaningful experiences—when they come to believe their minds, hearts and voices matter—the seemingly unattainable becomes inevitable.
And p.s. Without organizations such as NAA, Afterschool Alliance and Foundations, the resounding conversation about the vital funding that props our country up by supporting its youth and families would be a whisper. Read their blasts, click their links, and e-mail or snail mail a message to your state's representatives.
Do the WRITE thing.
Written by Meredith Scott Lynn, president and CEO of WRiTE BRAiN Books.