In part one of an exclusive report, which aired Thursday, NY1 education reporter Lindsey Christ explained why he may have a tough time paying for after-school programs for all middle-school students, even if he gets the money he's looking for. In Part two, Lindsey Christ looks at what that money could buy, and how much of a difference it might really make. She filed the following report.
Mayor Bill de Blasio wants every middle-school student to have access to free, comprehensive after-school activities. That means new programs for tens of thousands of additional students.
The mayor hopes to get them going by September, if he can convince Albany to approve a tax hike on the highest-earning city residents.
"We know it works. We know after school works," de Blasio said.
How well it works, though, really depends. Studies show a wide range of quality, and results, when it comes to after school. Yet advocates say the city has the resources to expand quickly and get it right.
"We have throughout the city many, many examples of quality programs, and so we just need to make sure as we expand, that we continue to expand quality programming," said Stephanie Gendell of the Citizens' Committee for Children.
One of those examples is a nonprofit called The After School Corporation, or TASC, and that's the model de Blasio said he built his initial proposal around. TASC programs include a mix of academic support and extracurricular activities.
So does the city's current after-school program, Out of School Time, which started in 2005 and now serves about 56,000 students. But a three-year study of that program found that although it had many positive effects on students, there was no impact on their academic performance.
The city recently restructured Out of School Time, requiring each program to have more science and math, and an education specialist on staff.
Experts say for de Blasio's plan to work, he'll also need to invest in the right people.
"That does require that we ensure the staff who are in the programs are qualified, that they have the training and support they need and that they are adequately compensated," Gendell said.
As NY1 reported earlier this week, the cost of the program could be a problem for the mayor. He wants to serve all middle-school students who sign up, and expects that about 120,000 will do so. Whether the tax hike would pay for high-quality programs for that many students is one of many questions still to be figured out.