Report Roundup: 12-Hour School Days? Why Government Should Leave Afterschool Arrangements To Parents

Amy Bracken
July 1, 2000

Darcy Olsen

Director of Education and Child Policy

This report uses data from research by the Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of Education, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and other groups (many of them government-related) to refute claims by both Democrats and Republicans that an expanded federally funded after-school program is needed and would help ensure the safety of young people.

The author takes on the following proponents’ assertions:

• In response to a 1999 statement from the Children’s Defense Fund that “the need for school-age care has taken on a special urgency”: According to data from the U.S. Department of Education (DoE), the U.S. Bureau of the Census and the National Child Care Survey, “only” 12 percent of children ages five through 12 ever care for themselves, and those who do are alone for about one hour per day, on average.

• In response to claims that after-school programs reduce crime: According to Department of Justice Crime Statistics, in 1998 about one quarter of 1 percent of juveniles , ages 10 to 17, committed violent crimes, and fewer than 2 percent committed property crimes.

• In response to the claim that young people should be in after-school programs for their own protection: According to the DoE, in 1997 more than 30 percent of students in grades nine through 12 were offered, sold or given an illegal drug while on school property, and 33 percent had their property stolen or deliberately damaged on school property.

• In response to the claim that there is a high demand for after-school programs: According to the 1993 National Study of Before- and After-School Programs, nation-wide enrollment in before- and after-school programs averaged only 59 percent of capacity.

As an alternative to what the author sees as “a small part of a plan to expand the role of public schools,” she advocates the adoption by state legislatures of universal tuition tax credits, which would give parents not only a choice of schools but also a choice of whether or not they wanted an after-school program. 19 pages. In Policy Analysis, a Cato Institute Series. $6 ($3 each for five or more). Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20001. (800) 767-1241.

Bracken, Amy. "12-Hour School Days? Why Government Should Leave Afterschool Arrangements To Parents." Report Roundup. Youth Today, July/August 2000, p. 31.

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