There is no debate that education is a process which, if it is to be successful, cannot simply occur within the walls of a school building between 8 and 3. Too often, though -- particularly in poor communities -- that process is short-circuited because simple things like encyclopedias, dictionaries, maps or even a quite, lighted place to spread out are not available to kids.
Now the city is going to provide these learning tools by turnin three of the Pratt Library's neighborhood branches into homework centers. The idea comes from Florence Brown, chief of the Pratt's 28-branch system, who recognized that resources were not being efficiently allocated. On her recommendation branches at Cherry Hill, Clifton and Morrell Park will now be open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. specifically to help students with required homework. The centers have been stocked almost exclusively with the kinds of books students need to complete their daily assignments and to research and write reports. More than that, the staff at each center has been freed of administrative responsibilities to assist kids with their work.
In essence, the centers give poor kids what their upper-middl class counterparts have always had -- a quiet, supervised place to study with all the resources to do a good job. And it costs virtually nothing. This is the kind of common-sense approach to education the city could use more of. We hope Cherry Hill, Clifton and Morrell Park are just the beginning and that soon homework centers will be accessible citywide.