Recent Afterschool Snacks
By Jen Rinehart
As the official start of summer nears, things have been heating up here in D.C.—and not just the temperature. Congress has really kicked into action on reauthorizations. Check out Erik Peterson’s blog posts on all the recent Congressional activity for more details on that.
But, federal law makers can’t even compete with the work that state legislators have been doing to support afterschool and summer learning in recent months. In fact, a number of state legislatures recently passed (not just introduced!) afterschool related legislation:
- In Illinois, legislators demonstrated their commitment to supporting children and youth in the hours after school by passing a 2014 state budget that included a new $10 million afterschool funding stream to be administered by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, a 7 percent increase to Teen REACH funding—from $8.2 million to $8.8 million, funding for local afterschool initiatives like After School Matters and continued support for child care.
By Erik Peterson
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)—chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee—along with the support of all of the Democrats on the Committee, has posted an Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill to replace the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act. The committee is expected to discuss and mark up the bill tomorrow. A Republican bill, Every Child Ready for College or Career Act, led by HELP Committee Ranking Member Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), was released late last week.
Chairman Harkin’s bill, the Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013
, supports teachers and principals to help provide high-quality instruction, ensures disadvantaged students get the supports they need to succeed, and focuses federal attention on supporting states and districts in turning around low-performing schools and closing achievement gaps.
With regard to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative the bill is very similar to the one that passed the Committee in the fall of 2011. Our main concern is that in an era of sequestration and budget cuts, the language in the bill will dilute and divert much-needed afterschool dollars to pay for a longer school day. In addition, the bill would allow 21st CCLC to fund activities normally funded by local education agencies such as teacher planning time and more time in a traditional classroom. It would also allow the funds to be used for wholescale school redesign, which could be an expensive drain on a stretched funding stream. There are other ways to fund a longer school day without cutting afterschool programming and these are included in Sen. Harkin’s bill. Currently, more than $13 billion in federal funding through Title I, Race to the Top, School Improvements Grants and I3 grants are already available to fund a longer school day.
We do applaud changes in the bill that allow for better reporting and data sharing between schools and community based organizations working with students. Specifically Section 4107 of the bill, which addresses 21st CCLC, states:
funds would still flow by formula to state education agencies that would then hold competitions at the state level. Partnerships of local education agencies (LEA) and public entities or non-profit organizations would be eligible to apply for funding, with either the LEA or the public entity or non-profit serving as the lead funded entity.
By Nikki Yamashiro
Sarah Cruz is the director of expanded learning opportunities for the Statewide Network for New Jersey’s Afterschool Communities, NJSACC. NJSACC promotes and supports the development, continuity and expansion of quality programs for children and youth during the hours after school.
We know that many afterschool programs engage youth in great hands-on experiences from arts and crafts and basketball to chess and step teams. What we need to know and promote to our colleagues and communities, policy makers and parents is how high-quality afterschool activities can support learning that takes place during the school day.
In New Jersey, we learned how this is possible from our pilot Supporting Student Success (s3). Funded by Charles S. Mott Foundation—in partnership with the National Conference of State Legislatures, Council of Chief State School Officers, and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices—we learned that afterschool programs can align and support school day learning when program leadership is intentional about the activities, experiences and interactions youth have while attending afterschool programs.
By Nikki Yamashiro
Do the kids you know exercise for at least an hour a day? Chances are they probably don’t. Only about half of kids meet the current guideline issued by the Department of Health and Human Services to get at least 60 minutes of exercise every day. In its report titled “Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School,” the Institute of Medicine (IOM) examined the state of physical activity and physical education of students and found that schools are facing an uphill battle trying to keep their students active for the recommended period of time. The authors recognize that schools shouldn’t be expected to be the only source of exercise for kids. They propose that while kids should get more than half of the recommended 60 minutes of activity during the regular school day, the rest should be accomplished by before- and/or afterschool programs.
Despite the evidence base that shows the overwhelming benefits of physical activity—vigorous and moderate-intensity physical activity—for children’s health, wellness and academic performance, the report finds schools face challenges promoting physical activity due to increased pressure on schools to raise standardized test scores, safety concerns and budgetary issues leading to a lack of teachers, equipment and space. Key recommendations to help students at least meet the minimum 60 minutes of vigorous or moderate-intensity physical activity every day include:
By Molly Tomlinson
Afterschool students at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster’s Embryology Program watched and learned as Herman, Henry, Chickie, Chiquita and Butterscotch grew from eggs into fluffy, yellow chicks. The students monitored the temperature and humidity of the incubators, fed the chicks and take turns holding the newly hatched chicks. Club Executive Director Donata Martin told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette that the afterschool program uses a curriculum which “integrates the concepts of embryology into easy-to-use math, science and language arts lesson plans.” She plans to repeat the program in the fall.
This week General Motors Co. (GM) launched GM Student Corps, a new program that is providing paid summer internships to 110 Detroit-area high school students who will work on community service projects. The program is “designed to help prepare teens for leadership and careers, as well as aid Detroit as it continues to evolve as a city where young professionals want to live and work,” The Detroit News reports. Teams of students are creating service projects, like cleaning up local parks or establishing a food bank or community garden in Detroit area neighborhoods. The students are responsible for budgeting, planning and implementing the projects over the summer, and they will be mentored by GM retirees and employee volunteers.
Afterschool programs in Lacey, funded by a North Thurston Public Schools’ 21st Century Community Learning Center grant, are transforming schools into a fun place to be after the school day ends. “On a recent afternoon, a group of students prepared mango mint salsa with fresh vegetables from the school’s garden, while others played math and reading games, worked on art projects, played computer chess and other programs in the library, and ran drills on the soccer field,” The Olympian reports. Program coordinators say that they’ve also seen academic gains in students and are hoping that the afterschool program can continue after the grant ends.
Afterschool students from programs at 22 schools across five counties premiered their short films at The State Theatre in Modesto last week. The films shown at the Reel Life Film Festival addressed a range of topics, like bullying, welcoming new students and sticking up for others. Students’ responsibilities weren’t limited to filming; students also had to pitch their story to “producers” (the afterschool program staff), develop plot lines and characters, figure out chronology and sequencing, and more.
By Molly Tomlinson
Two C.K. McClatchy High School seniors, John Spurlock and Keenan Harris, took first place in the policy debate division at the national Tournament of Champions last month. The win was unexpected because the C.K. McClatchydebate team is an afterschool program and has a significantly smaller budget than the private schools it was competing against. “What we feel is important is hard work and showing teams like us that are without gigantic coaching staffs or huge travel budgets that success is possible,” Harris told the Sacramento Bee.
The D.C. Council unanimously voted this week to increase funding for summer school by $4 million and to continue teaching as many city students as possible over the summer. The council added the extra funds after D.C. public schools said it would scale back summer classes this year. “The council also approved an ‘emergency’ declaration stating that all students who need extra instruction should be able to enroll in summer school,” the Washington Post reports.
Since January, afterschool students at Hoover Elementary in Crawfordsville have been training for a 5k run. The students started running after school through a partnership of Fuel Up to Play 60, Chartwell’s and Prairie Farms, The Paper of Montgomery County reports. Even after the afterschool program ended, the students kept running and training for a 5k race on Saturday. Proceeds from Saturday’s run will help the school buy equipment and fund next year’s afterschool program.
Afterschool students from Hoffman Elementary School were left scrambling when minutes before the Texas Solar Race Car Event at Gustafson Stadium, their entry was accidentally crushed by a fellow competitor. The students, with the help of their coach, stripped the wheels from a decommissioned car, applied superglue liberally, and returned to the track to place first in their heat and advance to the semi-finals. The team’s coach Patrick Ware told the San Antonio Express-News, “The most important thing I think they get out of it is how to work together. Things we have to learn as adults they're learning right there.” The afterschool students dedicated the past two months to their goal of engineering the fastest miniature solar car in the competition.
By Kelly Trussell
With the sequester now in effect, 3,400 AmeriCorps positions are expected to be cut. A recent story in the Baltimore Sun illustrates the concern that many afterschool providers have about the implications these cuts might have for their programs. At the Mother Seton Academy, a school for low-income children in Baltimore, AmeriCorps members serve in a number of vital roles, including helping out the afterschool program. As the school faces budget constraints and teachers are overworked, AmeriCorps members expand the capacity for schools and nonprofits to serve.
During a time of budget cuts, AmeriCorps members make all the difference in overcrowded classrooms, afterschool programs that keep kids safe or in tutoring programs that lower dropout rates. A recent blog post on Service Nation argues that the small living stipend offered to AmeriCorps members costs the country far less than the price of a teenager who drops out of school. With the wide range of services that AmeriCorps members offer, cuts to the program will undoubtedly have a large impact.
AmeriCorps currently engages more than 75,000 men and women at more than 15,000 locations including nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community- and faith-based groups across the country. During their year of service, AmeriCorps members help communities with a wide range of issues including disaster services, economic opportunity, education and healthy futures.
By Erik Peterson
With the House and Senate each passing their own budget resolutions last month, and the president’s budget request submitted to Congress earlier this month, the FY2014 appropriations process can now move forward. A challenge for Congress early in the process is trying to reconcile the House and Senate FY2014 budget bills. Reconciling the two is a difficult prospect as the Senate resolution has $92 billion more than the House does to fund programs.
Despite the differences, House and Senate appropriations committees have begun holding hearings on the FY2014 spending bills, including Labor, HHS, Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee hearings featuring testimony by Education Secretary Arne Duncan. At the House subcommittee hearing in early April, Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) emphasized the importance of maintaining strong investments in afterschool programs through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative and cautioned against diverting federal afterschool funding. As part of her formal statement, LHHS Subcommittee Ranking Member DeLauro addressed the need for an increase in funding while also noting her concerns with the Administration’s proposed changes to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative: