Monday, May 23, 2011

The Ed Reform Conversation

by Will Deyamport, III, MSEd

Former students of mine. They have since graduated from college.

I am educator. Nope I am not in K-12 education, nor do I work in higher education or some sort of adult education program. I also don't work in training development. I am one of millions of teachers, curriculum developers, program designers, coordinators, and executive directors who work within the field of youth development or out of school learning programs.

When people talk about education reform, they don't mention the need to reform the many organizations that serve youth after school and during the Summer. It's like we don't exist. We do and we do a lot of the heavy lifting.

Whether it is the Boys and Girls Club, America's Promise, Girl's Inc, Reel Grrls, GEAR UP, Junior Achievement, Admission Possible, City Year, or a million other organizations and programs, what we do is as critical to the academic, social, and emotional success of students as what happens within K-12 education. Not only do out of school learning programs pick up the slack of many schools, they actually do a better job at inspiring, challenging, and empowering young people. As such, I contend that out of school learning programs should be a part of the education reform conversation.

Just like in K-12 education, there is a need for competent teachers, leaders, and curriculum and program specialists in out of school learning programs. Just like in K-12 education, there is a need for degree programs that effectively prepare individuals for the realities of the work, as well as the students and the communities those students come from. And, just like in K-12 education, as part of their mission, out of school learning programs must find meaningful and engaging ways to connect and collaborate with other youth programs here and abroad.

Moving forward, I would like to see out of school learning program educators acknowledged for the work that we do. I'd also like to see us invited to Edcamps, Edchats, and other education conferences. After all, we serve the same age ranges and population of students. We deal with similar issues when it comes to student achievement, parental support, and funding. Though we don't have standardized tests to deal with, we are concerned about how our data affects the future direction/existence and funding sources of our programs and organizations. We belong in the conversation. We have a wealth of experiences to contribute to the education reform debate.


  1. I think this is a fantastic realization. Programs outside of schools aren't given adequate resources to continue the education and learning process that are fundamental in children development. The biggest thing we have for children are people like you who are passionate about their education and well-being. It's too bad that there isn't more funding available right now - I know that it's hard enough just merely keeping k-12 institutions funded!

  2. Ashley,

    Thanks for the compliment and leaving a comment. Working with young people changed me and left an impression on my being. I love seeing them learn something new or succeed at something they never thought of doing. The look on their face is priceless.