Today the Trump administration released their fiscal year 2019 full budget proposal just days after Congress approved topline spending levels for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. The full budget represents the president’s vision for how Congress should spend federal funds for the upcoming fiscal year that begins October 1, 2018 (FY19).
Echoing the FY18 budget proposal released last year, the administration again proposes the elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, which funds local afterschool and summer learning programs in all 50 states. Elimination of these funds for local programs would devastate the 1.7 million children and families who stand to lose access to programs as a result.
The budget proposal comes in stark contrast to the strong bipartisan support for afterschool displayed in Congress. Just in 2015, the Community Learning Centers initiative was reauthorized in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In 2017, bipartisan support in Congress in the FY17 omnibus spending bill lincreased funding by an included a $25 million increase to Community Learning Centers funding to meet the large need for these programs from working parents, students and communities across the country.
The research is clear: Afterschool works
The budget proposal attempts to justify the proposed elimination of Community Learning Centers by claiming that a lack of evidence exists that links the program to increased student achievement. In fact, more than a decade of data and evaluations provide compelling evidence that Community Learning Center afterschool programs yield positive outcomes for participating children in academics, behavior, school day attendance, and more. Last fall yet another study was released by the nonpartisan Rand Corporation, concluding afterschool and summer learning programs provide measurable benefits to youth and families on outcomes directly related to program content and demonstrably improve academic outcomes. While the effectiveness of Community Learnign Centers funding is clear, the impact of program elimination is clearly devastating, with thousands of students from pre-K to 12th grade in all 50 states at risk of losing access to programming.
The administration continues to rely on outdated hand-selected data that ignores more than a decade of evidence from researchers showing that afterschool works. Furthermore, with federal funding serving under 2 million students, and the parents of more than 19 million students wanting access to programs, there is a need for additional support to programs, not less.
The Department of Education’s most recent report on Community Learning Centers finds that half of the students regularly participating in Community Learning Center programs improved their math and reading grades, two-thirds improved their homework and class participation, and more than half improved their classroom behavior. One out of four students moved from “not proficient” to “proficient” or better in both math and reading test scores. Considering that Community Learning Centers programs work with some of the most disadvantaged children and youth, many of whom would otherwise be unsupervised after school, we should be celebrating these victories.
Who will be hurt?
In addition to the elimination of Community Learning Centers, the president’s full budget proposal would slash funding for dozens of programs that are vital for children and families. Overall, the president’s budget requests $59.9 billion for the Department of Education, a $7.1 billion or 10.5-percent decrease from the 2017 enacted level. However, after the passage of last week’s budget deal, the White House added some funds to the agency’s spending plan, now proposing a $3.8 billion cut, which is a 5.6 percent decrease compared to the FY 2017 enacted level (final FY 2018 spending bills are still being written).
The president’s budget request goes to Congress, where budget and appropriations deliberations for FY18 are wrapping up and FY19 appropriations deliberations will soon begin. This spring Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is expected to testify in support of the president’s education budget before the House and Senate Labor, Education, HHS Appropriations Subcommittees. In the meantime, supporters of afterschool from across the nation and political spectrum will be making the case that #AfterschoolWorks. This week several major national organizations that provide or support afterschool and summer learning programs sent a letter to key Appropriators in support of 21st CCLC.
What could the elimination of federal afterschool funding mean for families nationwide? Check this interactive map to see how many thousands of children are currently served by Community Learning Centers in your state—and would be left without an afterschool program if the president’s budget proposal is enacted.
What can afterschool supporters do?
The response from the afterschool field and the public to the proposed elimination of Community Learning Centers last year was loud and swift. In calendar year 2017, advocates reached out with almost 80,000 calls and emails to Congress in support of Community Learning Centers. National media outlets from the Washington Post and CNN to Time magazine and ABC News covered the proposed cut to afterschool funding.
To make sure our allies in Congress stand strong for afterschool funding, we need to continue to tell them loud and clear: Americans support afterschool and summer learning programs! Add your voice and take action now, and join us on February 14 to send a clear message of support for afterschool funding for 2019, 2018, and for years to come.
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