By Luci Manning
The Afterschool Alliance and more than 1,400 organizations send a letter to Congress this week urging representatives to reject President Trump’s budget proposal that would eliminate funding for afterschool programs. The budget cuts would affect some 6,000 Hawaii students. “We would like (Congress) to put the 21st Century (program) back into the budget,” Afterschool Ambassador Paula Adams told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. “Afterschool programs… are making a huge difference in our children’s lives and they are proving to be effective in who our children are in general.”
The Salisbury Daily Times editorial board argues that afterschool programs turn children into better students and better citizens, pushing back on the idea that afterschool programs don’t improve academic performance. They write: “Anyone, including the president, who thinks keeping fed and supervised after the school day ends is a waste of federal tax dollars, is sadly mistaken. ... The programs threatened by the president's proposed budget provide academic enrichment, supervised STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) activities, arts and social experiences, homework assistance, nutrition and socialization opportunities. They help youngsters develop skills they need to grow, learn and become productive, responsible citizens. Isn't that what we want, as a community?”
In an op-ed for the Plain Dealer, Annemarie Grassi, CEO of the afterschool program Open Doors Academy, details the effectiveness of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program: “Teachers report substantial progress in homework completion and overall behavior. Strong improvements have been documented for mathematics grades (36.5 percent), English grades (36.8 percent), and state tests in elementary reading and high school math. Given that many of the young people enrolling in the programs enter with notable academic deficits, these outcomes are striking. ... The 21st Century Community Learning Centers federal grant program is characterized by high impact, financial efficiency, strong results, and a solid return on investment. ... We urge the president to protect 21st Century funding and thereby stand behind an initiative that truly works – for everybody.”
About 600 to 700 Fremont Public School students could lose access to afterschool programs under President Trump’s budget proposal. The programs work to narrow the achievement gap and provide academic enrichment in coordination with the school curriculum, particularly helping lower-income students who may not have access to beneficial extracurricular activities. “We are giving kids the opportunities to participate in these activities and a lot of our teachers express that each year they see achievement from the beginning of the school year to the end of the school year raise in subjects like math and reading specifically,” Leah Hladik, program director of Fremont Expanded Learning Opportunities, told the Fremont Tribune.