Out-of-school time is that wonderful time in the life of kids where they are allowed to become, explore, and practice self-growth. Perhaps you remember some of this time from when you were younger. Depending on your age, you may have been at home baking cookies with mom and exploring the backyard; you may have been with an after-school babysitter, playing with the neighborhood kids, you may have been a “latchkey” kid exploring TV and other (sometimes not so healthy) options alone, or you could have been in an out-of-school-time program doing arts, crafts, music, and hanging out with friends.
Either way, the point is that you were not (at least my guess is MOST of you were not) enrolled in school-after-school. I’m guessing that you didn’t spend every waking hour that you weren’t in school (remember, we’re talking K-8 grades here) doing homework, studying, and worrying about school. I’m also imagining that, even though you had quite a bit of free time, your life has not gone to hell, you’re not a blithering moron, nor a drug-addled slacker. But if you listen to today’s hysterical hand-wringers, this is just exactly what is happening now to our current generation of kids.
Our kids have far too much idle time on their hands, according to our current alarm-sounders. They don’t spend enough time studying and learning outside of school, and, lord knows, if they continue down this pernicious path, they are all sure to grow up to be imbeclilc, drooling, meth-addicted prostitutes, or, at best, burger-flippers at In-N-Out.
Which brings us to the latest governmental idea, touched upon in the last post… schools, school districts, and the government co-opting the mantle of after-school time that has traditionally been held by the proponents of the Youth Development philosophy. Even with a defecit, the government still has the money (thank you all you drooling, decrepit smokers who obviously didn’t spend enough time on your studies while you were in elementary school). And with the money, government is able to break through one of the dilemmas that has bedeviled CBOs and Non-Profits involved in the out-of-school-time game: how to break even. In this culture, money is still power.
Enter government as a Jesus-figure: a savior to come in and save the after-school world. But, alas, something is rotten in the state of Denmark (if not Denmark, then, at least California). Because, honestly, government, and, specifically, their moral-wielding minions, the school districts, on the whole do not support the tenets of the Youth Development movement. More time for social learning? BAH! How could that possibly be of any use to the child’s future employers? Funding for music and arts? HAH! We’ve already axed them to the bone during the school day- why would we bring them back after school? Worthy wages for after-school professionals? HEH! As long as we can pay $0.25 more per hour than the local mini-mart, we’ll get eager workers, even if they only stay for a short time. More resources for character development? WHOO! Now, that’s hilarious. Where is that section on the standardized tests?