Making after school cool by ProQuest


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									Making after school cool
From job apprenticeships to enrichment, after-school activities
can provide valuable experiences for teenagers, but many stop attending
         By Rebecca Harris                                                           Erikson Institute believes that After        Programs for teens need to offer
                                            ON THE WEB

                                                                                     School Matters is successful partly      higher-level characteristics. “The
         rystal Lane, a 16-year-old         “It’s a distraction from getting         because its job-like structure—in-       older you are, the more important it
         sophomore at Gage Park             involved in gangs or drugs,” says        cluding pay, required attendance         is to go higher up on the pyramid,”
         High, failed a freshman math       Javier Arriaga about the after-          and high behavior expectations—          Chesire says.
         course. This fall, she joined a    school program he attends at             leads adolescents to think about the         To address the issue, the Out-of-
Caribbean dance class through After         Chicago Commons’ Paulo Freire            process of becoming an adult.            School Time Project launched a pi-
                                            Family Center. Yet he and other
School Matters that helped her raise                                                    His 2008 book “The Means to           lot project in which 38 after-school
                                            teens who participate in such
her grades by boosting her self-con-                                                 Grow Up” details his research into       sites volunteered to undergo a self-
                                            programs say their friends don’t
fidence, providing her with a place         join them because they don’t know        programs that use apprenticeships        evaluation and external evaluation
where she felt respected and giving         much about them or don’t like that       that engage young people in mean-        based on the assessment tool. After
her incentive to study harder.              younger children attend. They also       ingful, adult tasks valued by society,   the evaluation, the sites were of-
    Now Crystal is proud to show            say programs are sometimes boring        rather than providing emotional          fered professional workshops and
off her midterm progress report: all        or too much like school. To find out     support or life-skills instruction.      coaching on improving quality to
A’s and B’s. The class, she says, “is       more about what teens say they              By exposing teens to adults who       better engage teens. An additional
teaching me what I can do to make           want in after-school programs, go        are passionate about their work,         30 sites are now receiving similar
myself happy and make my family             to             and to high standards, such pro-         support.
proud.”                                                                              grams help teens “begin to under-            The project also sought help from
    After School Matters provides          school Partnerships Improve Results       stand what they need to do to be-        a California-based firm, Rescue So-
high school students with paid ap-         in Education) Act would fund pro-         come adults, and [that] gets them        cial Change Group, which in 2007
prenticeships in the arts, fitness and     grams specifically for high school        to focus a little bit more on school     and 2008 had hired teens in Chicago
other fields. In terms of demand, it’s     and middle school students. The Act       tasks,” Halpern says.                    to interview their peers about after-
one of Chicago’s more successful           has been introduced in the U.S. Sen-                                               school activities; the interviews
programs, serving about 8,000 stu-         ate and is slated to be introduced in     the mikva Challenge, an organi-          revealed a number of features that
dents each semester at more than           the U.S. House.
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