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Despite making up a critical share of the economy, middle-skills jobs – those that require more education or training than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree – are only now slowly beginning to gain the attention of those focused on the K-12 education pipeline meant to prepare American children to meet the country’s labor needs. Advocates say, students must be exposed to these less-considered but greatly needed careers — and they must be taught that earning a four-year degree is not the only path to success.

Only about one in six children who are eligible for childcare assistance in America actually receive it. In most states, childcare costs more than tuition at a four-year public university. And more than 50 percent of neighborhoods in America have a demand for childcare that exceeds supply.

But the Child Care for Working Families Act, reintroduced last month by Senator Patty Murray and Representative Bobby Scott and largely overlooked by the media, aims to change that. The legislation, which has been endorsed by all of the Democratic presidential candidates who are in Congress, would reach three in four children under age 13 by making quality childcare affordable for every low- and middle-income family who needs it.

Marciene Mattleman, 89, a feisty advocate for Philadelphia’s children who created a legacy of programs to promote literacy and afterschool activities, died Friday, March 29, after a four-year battle with Parkinson’s disease. “No one in this city has done more for the schoolchildren of Philadelphia and our region than Marciene Mattleman,” former Governor Ed Rendell said in 2015 when she retired as board chair of After School Activities Partnerships, one of the organizations she created.

As the desire to improve social emotional learning for all students grows, it is increasingly important to measure its effectiveness. But the field has lacked an organized method of identifying, choosing and using the best assessments to measure students’ competencies. Two newly developed tools can help.

  • The SEL Assessment Guide, created by CASEL and the SEL Assessment Work Group, is an online resource that helps educators select and effectively use the most popular SEL student assessments.
  • The RAND Education Assessment Finder, which lists more than 200 assessments of interpersonal, intrapersonal and higher-order cognitive competencies, allows educators and researchers to search different types of assessments.

Consider these ideas: Some kids are STEM kids and some are not. Students need to master science and math basics before moving on to STEM concepts. STEM focuses on future jobs, so educators should concentrate instruction in middle and high school.

Wrong, wrong and wrong, say the experts. In fact, such myths contribute to many students’ STEM struggles. Add to these a 2016 study that found kids show up for kindergarten with uneven exposure to STEM. That gap, which can dog students through middle school, is so real that researchers can more consistently predict future academic achievement based on preschool math abilities than on early reading or attention skills.

There is a remedy: Expose all children as early as possible to STEM and the gap narrows. Yes, you read that right. Researchers believe the science-math gap is really a pervasive early opportunity gap.

2019 Afterschool and STEM Advocacy Day Huge Success!

Advocates on the steps of the Rotunda at the Pennsylvania State Capital in Harrisburg, rallying for better out-of-school time opportunities.

PSAYDN held their annual legislative advocacy day in Harrisburg on Wednesday, March 27. More than 200 advocates – including parents, program providers, youth, educators, faith-based leaders, community and business leaders from across the state – came together to highlight the importance of out-of-school time opportunities in our state. The advocates visited with legislators, attended legislative sessions and rallied in the Rotunda of the Pennsylvania State Capitol.

Photo: Advocates on the steps of the Rotunda at the Pennsylvania State Capital in Harrisburg, rallying for better out-of-school time opportunities.

When you ask American teenagers to pick a single word to describe how they feel in school, the most common choice is “bored.” The institutions where they spend many of their waking hours, they’ll tell you, are lacking in rigor, relevance or both. What would it take to transform high schools into more humanizing and intellectually vital places? The answer is right in front of us, if only we knew where to look. Debate, drama and other extracurricular provide the excitement many classrooms lack, and they can help overhaul the system.

“Why can I buy four bags of chips at the corner store for $1, but one smoothie at the supermarket costs $4?” This is the question that sparked the idea of the Rebel Market, a corner store run by high school students that is set to open next year through the Rebel Ventures program. Rebel Crumbles became the first student-produced food to be available in all Philadelphia district schools in 2017. More than a million of the Crumbles have been distributed as part of the free breakfast program. “Our ongoing desire to bring healthy foods to neighborhoods through creating our own store connected with funding opportunities really focused our energy into trying to make this become a reality here and now. We really are trying to take advantage of these unique opportunities to bring some youth power into food retail in our neighborhoods,” said Stein.

Kitsap Regional Library, provides interest-based, community-led, informal STEM learning opportunities through a variety of modes – public programs facilitated by librarians, clubs or classrooms at all of the Kitsap-area school districts, and intentional outreach to local service organizations to meet people where they are in the community.

PSAYDN at Center for Schools and Communities
275 Grandview Avenue, Suite 200 | Camp Hill, Pa 17011 | (717) 763-1661
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