May 10, 2012

Ford Foundation Gives $50-Million to Push for Longer School Days

Calling efforts to extend school days "the beginnings of a national movement," the Ford Foundation today announced it will put $50-million into efforts to push for additional learning time at schools in poor neighborhoods across the country.

In 2009, Ford pledged $100-million to improve high-school education; with today's announcement, half that money will be narrowly focused on lengthening school time.

"Over the past few months, the idea of expanding and redesigning learning time for our kids, for America's children, has been gaining the kind of momentum very few movements have gained in a short period of time," said Luis Ubiñas, president of Ford, in making the announcement. "Every week there's been news, commentary, and action on the ground," including a Congressional hearing that discussed the idea.

Ford's money will back a new coalition, Time to Succeed, which the foundation started along with the National Center on Time & Learning. Members include Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, N.J., and Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America.

Mr. Ubiñas and other coalition members who participated in the announcement said that extended school time is a proven way to improve education and student achievement.

All of the schools in Phoenix's Balsz Elementary School district, for example, are now labeled as "performing" or better, compared with half that were "underperforming" or "failing" before the district expanded its school year to 200 days in 2009.

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