Dear Superintendent DeMaria,
The Ohio Afterschool Network would like to congratulate the Ohio Department of Education and education stakeholders on substantial progress formulating a thoughtful and ambitious statewide strategic plan to Ohio’s children. As a network representing thousands of out-of-school time educators in Afterschool and Summer Learning programs throughout Ohio, OAN is grateful for the opportunity to share positive feedback and suggestions to make the draft plan even stronger.
We were pleased to see the core sensibilities reflected in the draft strategic plan include an emphasis on the whole child and equity, recognition of four domains of learning and a critical shift away from the college-for-all philosophy. Helping each and every Ohio child identify and pursue educational pathways to economically viable careers related to his or her passion and talents is right-minded, practical and, we believe, achievable. The draft strategic plan outlines comprehensive and well-aligned strategies to support this work.
However, we believe the plan misses tremendous opportunities to leverage high-quality out-of-school time education programs including Afterschool and Summer Learning as partners in support of Ohio’s education goals. Across the state, Afterschool programs are critically important to a comprehensive approach. They impact an estimated 284,319 students in Afterschool programs and many more in Summer Learning, camps and other opportunities. In the current fiscal year, Ohio is investing nearly half a billion dollars to support school-age education and care outside of school. That includes $62,000,000 in the education budget for direct programming and oversight, but does not include the substantial portion of federal School Improvement Grants, federal Title grants, school lunch and nutrition subsidies and other dollars that also support out-of-school programming to improve outcomes for Ohio’s neediest children.
High quality Afterschool and Summer Learning programs provide increased time and differentiated methods to help students master Ohio Learning Standards; comprehensive support to mitigate non-academic barriers and support families; career readiness/workforce development including mentorship, workplace learning and internships; exposure to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), especially for underrepresented populations including girls, African American and Latino students and students in rural communities; and safe environments where students develop resilience, critical thinking and related skills essential to their future success.
Ohio’s strategic plan should explicitly address the role of Afterschool and Summer Learning in supporting the efforts of Ohio’s schools. By including out-of-school time education, the state would be emphasizing the importance of alignment of strategies across programs, as well as encouraging efforts to improve the quality of Afterschool and Summer Learning programs to maximize impact on the state’s education priorities. The attached document lists OAN’s suggestions to strengthen the plan for all of Ohio’s children. Thank you for taking the time to consider how a comprehensive approach including high-quality Afterschool and Summer Learning will contribute to student achievement and success.
With Kindest Regards,
The Ohio Afterschool Network
Download a copy of this letter on OAN Letterhead: ODE State Plan OAN Comments