TSC Co-Chairs Chris Gabrieli and Luis Ubiñas wrote this piece for the Huffington Post celebrating the first year of TSC and outlining why they believe more and better learning time is critical.
A year ago this month, we launched the Time to Succeed Coalition with a splash and a promise. Our promise was to bring people together who support expanding learning time, particularly for students living in areas of concentrated poverty – whether those people work deeply in education, policy, or are concerned parents, teachers, and citizens. We promised to help move initiatives and policies and support the work of others doing the same. And most of all, we promised to help expand the number of students in ELT schools.
Over the year, we’ve seen districts expand their learning time in big ways and small. Conversations have started in states – Iowa and North Carolina – and with leadership from Governor Cuomo, a new ELT Initiative is beginning in New York. Five states announced that they are joining an initiative to develop high-quality, sustainable models of expanded learning time schools. We’re seeing more and better learning time become weaved throughout strategies for school turnaround and transformation. All in all, it’s been a year of progress and momentum.
Through all of that, I will say that the best moment of the past year for me came when we launched Time to Succeed Massachusetts at the Massachusetts State House. Governor Deval Patrick spoke as did Representative Alice Peisch and Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, Co-Chairs of the Legislature’s Education Committee – all TSC-MA Signatories. They were eloquent about the need for expanded learning time for students across the Commonwealth, but the person who stole the show was a young woman named Krystal. Krystal is now a senior at a Boston high school and was a middle school student at the Edwards Middle School during its first three years as an ELT school. Her honesty, candor, and poise were remarkable as she talked about the impact the redesigned and expanded schedule at the Edwards had on her life – she credited the school with giving her opportunities to shine. The teachers gave her intensive individualized academic support while also exposing her to enrichment opportunities she would not have otherwise had, including apprenticeships. As Krystal prepares to head to a four-year college on a full scholarship, the impact is clear.
I’ve been working on the issue of expanded learning time for the better part of six years. What I’ve learned is that sometimes, in the day-to-day advocacy and policy work, it is easy to lose sight of why we do what we do. But Krystal is why. Krystal is extraordinary, that is for sure, but she will tell you that she is where she is because teachers had the time to help her get here. And she is not alone – there are thousands more Krystals out there. We just need to give teachers the time to teach, reach, and inspire them.