How to Find the Best After School Program

If your child needs a good after school activities program in order to receive tutoring services to strengthen their skills in a particular class, you may find that there are many after school programs to choose from. Each after school program caters to the needs of students. Some cater to the sports aspects, some focuses on math and science, some focus on reading and spelling, while others focus on alternative learning skills. Whether you home school or you send your child to school, he or she can benefit from a good balanced after school activities program.

First, you need to make a list of all the after the school activities available in your area that is easy to drive to and you can afford. While creating this list allow yourself enough choices in order to find the right one. You may need to take into consideration the miles away from your home, the hours of the after school program, and are there any type of extra curricular activities offered too.

Next, you need to call around to after care programs that are on your list. When you contact them, ask to speak directly to the owner or the supervisor that is in charge of new admissions. Others may try to persuade you to talk to them but you need to speak directly to the person who started this after school program in order to understand their goals and what they have done to reach them. Your child’s education will depend on this answer so take your time in discussing this matter. Write down a list of questions that you may want to ask someone about their after school program. For example, if your child has a learning disability, autism, or ADD, you want to know whether their after school program can cater to their special needs. Some may while others may not.

An after care program should be flexible on their closing times because not every parent is able to pick up their child by a certain time. You want to make sure that you have the opportunity to come later if needed and make sure that someone will stay with your child until you arrive. You don’t want your child to stand outside waiting for you.

Does the after care program have any group activities to strengthen character, socialization, and mental awareness? Some programs can cater more toward sports starting up basketball teams, football teams, and other sports with the students who attend. Others may start cultural programs that will give them time to express some of their cultural traits including learning dances and dressing up.

Always make sure that the after care program is accredited in order to benefit from their services. If they are not accredited and your child is trying to obtain a credit, the board of education may not allow it if the after school program is not accredited. When in doubt, ask other parents of school aged children what they prefer to do for an after care program.

Some Texas Schools Reject State Merit Pay Program

In May of 2006, the Texas Educator Excellence Grant Program was enacted by a special legislative session in Texas. Governor Rick Perry and several legislators sponsored the bill, which allocates state funds to underwrite merit pay plans in Texas schools across the state. It is the largest incentive pay program in the nation.

The program essentially implements a long-standing business concept into the Texas schools, treating teachers as individual professionals rather than an educational team. Proponents of the program believe that mediocrity becomes the standard, when excellence and mediocrity are equally rewarded.

The legislature allocated $100 million for teacher bonuses for this school year, and another $250 million for the next school year. The program targets Texas schools, which have a large population of low-income students but also have earned one of the two highest state performance ratings of exemplary or recognized. Classroom teacher bonuses are only for those who teach in core subject areas and are based on student standardized test scores.

Grants for the program were awarded to 1,161 Texas schools this year, 15 percent of all traditional and charter schools within the state. Though such a program is mostly untested in public schools, the Texas schools has made it voluntary for qualifying schools. Teachers are required to give input at each school and ultimate approval of the program.

More than 24 schools already have rejected the program and grant money, some returning up to $90,000 to the state. Linda Bridges of the Texas Federation of Teachers stated that the backers of the bill never consulted the teachers before developing and passing the program. Critics of the program do not believe it will achieve what the proponents suggest it will, and teacher resistance remains high.

One reason cited is the animosity that such a plan will cause in the Texas schools, pitting teacher against teacher in order to attain the bonuses. It would dissolve the team spirit prevalent at many Texas schools, where teachers and staff all work together for the success of the entire school. This “one big family” attitude is embraced by many educators. Under the state’s program, only core subject teachers are eligible for the bonuses, ignoring many teachers who add to a school’s total success.

Many Texas schools educators see the program as a disruption, distracting teachers from focusing on raising student test scores and improving their academic achievement. Instead, they would be focused on personal gain over the total success of the school.

Another drawback to the incentive pay program is the amount of paperwork required for a school to participate. Many Texas schools teachers would much rather spend that time working with their students.

Debbie Ratcliffe of the Texas schools said they expect at least 98 percent of the schools to accept the grant money and develop merit pay plans for their teachers.