Guest Commentator: Miles H. Wilson, President/CEO, EducationWorks @educationworks

Why is it important to engage children and young people in education experiences both in and out of school?

In a word, “opportunity.” Education is reading, math and science, to be sure. But in the very best schools, students also have the opportunity to grow through new education experiences — during the school day and beyond.

So in addition to their core courses, these young people can elect to learn about robotics: or join the school symphony orchestra; or learn coding to design new video games; or even learn the basics of videography. It is fun, and children love it.

Just as important, because it is fun, kids learn to fail without fear, which gives them the confidence to experiment with new ideas. These opportunities give young people a chance to learn what they like and what they don’t, and more importantly, they learn to dream bigger dreams.

But in Philadelphia, too many schools are critically “under-resourced” and cannot provide these types of enrichment opportunities for their students.

As a city and region, we need to think about the consequences of selling our children short. Why ignore the potential of thousands of children simply because they cannot attend the very best schools, which in some cases are literally just down the street? And what does it say about all of us if we don’t engage all children in meaningful education experiences, regardless of their economic circumstances?

To address this “experiential deficit,” Out of School Time (OST) providers like EducationWorks offer enrichment options during and after the school day all across the city. Our programs are designed to be fun and educational, to give young people a chance to explore new ideas and imagine larger possibilities for their future.

It is incredibly rewarding work, and we are blessed to have the chance to help engage children in learning. But the truth is, our schools should have the resources to offer these programs throughout the day to children from every neighborhood.

When it’s done right, they don’t distinguish between in school and out of school. It’s just school, and it’s a place where children can reach their full potential.



EducationWorks is a member of the Chamber’s <