NCLB Creates Role for Alternative Education Centers
> 3/27/2006 1:05:15 PM

The final chapter of NCLB and the current trends in education won't be written for a long while. That being said, as the NYT article I discussed earlier today implies, an increased focus on the core subjects often leaves many in search of places to fulfill their educational curiosity. It is into these voids that many outside organizations, non-profits to a large extent, have been stepping in recent years.

Last night's 60 Minutes program gave a perfect example of this. In his discussion with golfer Tiger Woods, Ed Bradley got a chance to see one of Wood's off-course ventures: The Tiger Woods Learning Center. Located in Anaheim, CA, close to where Woods grew up, the TWLC offers children the chance to engage subjects and interests that they might not encounter in the traditional school system. In a 35,000-sq-foot building, the staff at TWLC help "get students thinking about the role education plays in their futures." With top of the line technologies, students arrive at the TWLC after school and explore topics such as robotics, game design and video production.

A similar organization that has been extending learning beyond the walls of America's schools is the 826 network. What started as a writing center in San Francisco nearly five years ago has grown into a national organization with similar centers in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Ann Arbor.

At the New York center, 826 NYC, located in Park Slope, Brooklyn, students can drop in for free after school tutoring, sign-up for writing seminars and publish their very own stories. With the help of neighborhood volunteers, the folks at 826, like TWLC, are able to offer their services to kids free of charge. Because the learning is taking place outside of the typical classroom, the tutors and teachers of 826 can engage kids on a different level. They can explore the areas that kids are interested in, and they can challenge them to be creative without fear of getting a bad grade or failing an end of year exam.

As the contours of our public education system continue to change, it is groups like TWLC and 826 will have an important part to play in helping to provide a full and varied learning experience for children. No matter where you live, chances are there is a similar organization in your area. If you're interested, find out more and get involved. These types of operations count on support from the public to do their great work.

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