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Educators convene town hall against cuts to afterschool & summer

By Ursula Helminski

“Looking back, I don't know where I would have been without afterschool pushing me [and] showing me right from wrong." - Ashley, After-School All-Stars, AFT Tele-Town Hall

On June 12, in a show of united concern and support, the education, afterschool, community school, and health communities came together for a national tele-town hall to discuss the devastation that President Trump’s proposed cuts would wreak on Americans, and what we can do about it. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) organized the call-in event, in partnership with the Afterschool Alliance, the Coalition for Community Schools, Learning Forward, and the National Association of School Nurses.

Teachers, nurses, afterschool youth, working parents, and community school leaders shared personal stories about the programs and supports that will be lost if the cuts are made.

Ashley Castillo, a graduate of the After-School All-Stars program in Florida, shared that afterschool programs fed her when her family was struggling and she was hungry, and afterschool staff provided the morale support and guidance that helped her on the challenging path to college. Read more about Ashley’s story.

Kelly Quattlebaum, a single mom of four from Alabama, said she couldn’t have made it without the support of afterschool programs. Because of afterschool, Kelly was able to complete a college degree and advance her career, putting in her in a better position to provide for her family.  Her son not only discovered his future calling as an electrician in his afterschool program, he also discovered that he can make a difference in the lives of others, through a project building solar-powered heat and A/C units for residents who had none. 

If the cuts are implemented, nearly 2 million children stand to lose afterschool and summer programs. Other speakers shared how the proposed cuts would increase class size, cut professional development for educators, jeopardize students' health, and threaten the existence of community schools. 

To stop the cuts from becoming reality, speakers urged listeners to contact Congress and make their voices heard. June 28 is a national day of action to protect summer and afterschool programs.