I know you hear every day about cuts coming from all levels of government toward schools and services that support the most vulnerable kids and families. I’m especially concerned today about threats to the integrity and stability of New York’s Out-of-School Time (OST) system, which has done so much to support families and help students succeed.
The New York Times SchoolBook published a timely article on the subject this week. It matches our analysis of the magnitude of threatened cuts to programs that support learning after 3 PM. Currently, 53,000 New York City students attend after-school programs and expanded learning days supported by the city’s OST initiative. Under the city’s proposed budget plan, beginning in September of 2012, an estimated 23,000 young people would lose those opportunities—43 percent of all who attend today.
At its peak, the OST system gave 85,000 young New Yorkers a safe place to go and exposure to arts, sports and academic help after 3 PM. Parents who enrolled their children were able to focus on their jobs instead of child care, and many students got learning opportunities they could access nowhere else.
The future for these families is uncertain. After-school programs have already begun to reduce their services and, in some cases, are no longer able to serve families that relied on them for years. I fully support New York City and the Department of Youth and Community Development for the efforts they propose to improve the quality and effectiveness of OST-supported programs, and to align them more closely with what happens in the traditional school day. But we need New York City to restore the funding, not lay the pain of cuts disproportionately on parents who are trying to stay employed or kids who are trying to get ready for college.