For many in the United States, the United Kingdom (UK) has been a standout among political powers because of its treatment of youth work—afterschool programming, voluntary services, job training, housing—as a public good. Most youth services were primarily funded by local municipalities. In 2010, this public support was revoked as a part of broader austerity measures enacted in the wake of the global financial crisis. Many youth programs, already reeling from reduced resources under the Blair government, found themselves defunded overnight.
We’re all for evidence-based policy making. But there are moments when the use of the “evidence” card just rings false. Brookings Senior Education Fellow Mark Dynarski’s reprised conclusion that existing research on afterschool programs does not support the current federal investment has that telltale clank.
We’re four weeks out from the Ready by 21 National Meeting and I’m stoked. We couldn’t ask for a better location or better host partners. The plenary and workshop line-up is fantastic, as is the mix of familiar and new names on the registration list.
My excitement, however, also comes from within.
Imagine that you're the parent of 13-year-old twins. One thrives in school: His test scores place him in the top quartile of his peers. The other struggles: He's not motivated to learn what schools want to teach, and his test scores put him in the bottom quartile.
It's time to select high schools. You decide that the boys would benefit by going to separate schools, and you live in a place (such as Washington, D.C.) where they can choose schools through a lottery. You feel lucky when that lottery gives you slots in two schools - until you discover a disturbing truth.
Take a look at any set of youth issues that you hear people complain about in the news: youth mental health, youth violence, youth homelessness, you name it. Each of those issues is not squarely in the hands of any one federal, state or local agency to tackle. But because our government agencies aren’t set up to work together very well, they don’t typically tackle these issues very well.
If government is going to more effectively take on such complex social problems, somebody has to connect the dots among these different agencies. Somebody like José Esquibel.