On March 14, Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui announced a plan to develop a new statewide initiative to enhance the learning experience of intermediate and middle school students during the afterschool hours. According to the lieutenant governor’s office, the Hawaii Intermediate/Middle School Challenge will provide a comprehensive social and educational foundation that will enrich the lives of intermediate/middle school students throughout Hawaii through a broad base of programs and activities, outside of regular instructional hours. The program seeks to include academic enrichment, arts and culture, and sports and will be designed to help prepare students for high school, college, the workforce and their communities.
The new initiative addresses the need to keep young people safe and engaged during the hours immediately following school. Afterschool programs are shown to increase or improve school attendance, behavior and coursework—all key indicators in whether a middle school student will graduate. Furthermore, studies show that crimes committed by or against juveniles occur with greater frequency on schools days and roughly between the hours of 3 and 7 p.m.
The Hawaii Intermediate/Middle School Challenge was inspired by After-School All-Stars Hawaii, a comprehensive, high quality afterschool program for middle school students that provides free, engaging afterschool programming that helps young people succeed in school and in life. The program serves middle school youth ages 12-15 during the afterschool hours of 3 to 6 p.m. at eight middle schools on Oahu. Students from After-School All-Stars joined the lieutenant governor for the announcement.
When Congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011 almost two years ago, they included a provision meant to be so difficult to swallow that it would force the House and the Senate, Republicans and Democrats, to come together and pass a reasonable plan for reigning in the deficit. That strategy failed and the result is that the across-the-board cuts known as the sequester officially went into effect today—after a two month reprieve that resulted from the Jan. 1, 2013, fiscal cliff resolution.
- Approximately 30,000 low-income children of working parents would lose child care assistance through the Child Care and Development Block Grant and many more would experience a reduction in services.
- Title I Grants to school districts would see a cut in excess of $750 million, denying funding to well over 2,500 schools serving more than 1 million disadvantaged students. These funds pay for teachers, tutors and afterschool programs. Sequestration would mean job losses for more than 10,500 teachers and aides.
- For the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, it is now estimated that about 58,000 young people would lose afterschool and summer learning supports, likely beginning with the 2013-14 school year.
On the heels of the Afterschool for All Challenge, there have been a number of activities in Washington as we move into the middle of February. From the State of the Union earlier this week to a day of action on sequestration today, the impact on education in general and afterschool and summer learning programs in particular are highlighted below:
- Supporting all 50 states to provide access to preschool for all low- and moderate-income children: The president is proposing to work with Congress to provide all low- and moderate-income 4-year-old children with high-quality preschool—while also expanding these programs to reach hundreds of thousands of additional middle class children—and incentivizing full-day kindergarten policies, so that all children enter kindergarten prepared for academic success.
- Creating a Master Teacher Corps of exemplary educators in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM): President Obama is calling on Congress to commit new resources to create a STEM Master Teacher Corps, enlisting 10,000 of America’s best and brightest science and math teachers to improve STEM education across America’s schools.
- Modernizing America’s high schools for real-world learning: The president is announcing a new competition to kick-start a redesign of high schools to emphasize real-world learning. The president’s plan will invest in redesigning high school to focus on providing challenging, relevant experiences as well as reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers and that create classes that focus on technology, science, engineering and other 21st century skills.
|Sen. Barbara Boxer at the "Breakfast of Champions"|
Following rousing speeches by Sens. Boxer (D-CA) and Murkowski (R-AK) last week during the "Breakfast of Champions," the bipartisan Afterschool for America’s Children Act, S. 326, wasintroduced in the Senate today. Sens. Boxer (D-CA), Murkowski (R-AK) and Murray (D-WA) introduced the Afterschool for America’s Children Act that reauthorizes the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative and builds on past afterschool and summer learning program success. The bill number, 326, symbolizes the hours of 3 to 6 p.m. when young people should have quality learning and enrichment opportunities.
- Strengthens school-community partnerships to include sharing of data and resources, the ability to better leverage relationships within the community and provide an intentional alignment with the school day.
- Promotes professional development and training of afterschool program staff.
- Encourages innovative new ways to engage students in learning that looks different from a traditional school day, with an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning; science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); and physical activity and nutrition education. Supports approaches that focus on individualized learning that provide a variety of ways for students to master core skills and knowledge.
- Provides accountability measures that are connected to college- and career-readiness goals and show student progress over time toward meeting indicators of student success including school attendance, grades and on-time grade level advancement.
- Ensures that funding supports programs that utilize evidence-based, successful practices.
- Increases quality and accountability through parent engagement, better alignment with state learning objectives, and coordination between federal, state and local agencies.
- Does not prioritize any one model of expanded learning opportunities over another.
- Maintains formula grants to states that then distribute funds to local school-community partnerships through a competitive grant process.
Next week on Feb. 7, the Afterschool for All Challenge is an opportunity to raise your voice right in your own community to support the quality afterschool and summer learning programs that inspire young people to learn, support working families and keep children safe. Over the last 11 years several thousand parents, educators, young people and afterschool champions have come to Washington, D.C., and Capitol Hill to make the case that afterschool, before school and summer learning programs are critical to the success of young people and a lifeline for parents.
This year we are changing it up and not asking advocates to travel to Washington, D.C., for the Afterschool for All Challenge. Because budgets are tight and times are uncertain at afterschool programs we are instead calling on friends of afterschool programs to call, meet in home district offices and email Congress on Afterschool for All Challenge day: Feb. 7, 2013. Here in Washington, we will be backing up your outreach at home through face-to-face meetings with Congress, as we team up with over 40 state teams who will be in Washington for the conference of the National Network of Statewide Afterschool Networks.
The results of the last 11 years of afterschool advocacy are clear: federal support for afterschool and summer learning through the 21st CCLC has grown—from being able to help 40,000 students access support in 1998 to helping more than 1 million young people last year. We know afterschool works and champions of afterschool are excellent at making the case:
- The Promising Afterschool Programs Study found that regular participation in high-quality afterschool programs is linked to significant gains in standardized test scores and work habits. (University of California, Irvine, 2007)
- A meta analysis of 68 afterschool studies concluded that high quality afterschool programs can lead to improved attendance, behavior and coursework. Students participating in a high quality afterschool program went to school more, behaved better, received better grades and did better on tests compared to non-participating students. (Durlak, Weissberg & Pachan, 2010)
- The Promising Afterschool Programs Study found that students reported improved social and behavioral outcomes: elementary students reported reductions in aggressive behavior toward other students and skipping school; middle school students reported reduced use of drugs and alcohol, compared to their routinely unsupervised peers. (Policy Studies Associates, Inc., 2007)
Afterschool programs can play an important role in the national effort to ensure our young people are safe at school, after school and in their communities. On Wednesday Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant was present as Pres. Obama and Vice Pres. Biden announced their plan to help protect young people and communities from gun violence, including a number of measures that strive to create a safer climate for students in and out of school.
Jodi Grant joined cabinet members from the departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Justice and other federal agencies; Members of Congress; mayors; and officials from allied youth serving and afterschool organizations like the YMCA of the USA, Boys and Girls Club of America and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Early this month the Afterschool Alliance attended an intimate meeting where we were invited to make recommendations to the vice president’s task force. These recommendations include:
- Targeted funding through the Department of Justice for evidence-based afterschool and summer learning programs that prevent youth violence, including programs offering physical activity that helps contribute to positive mental health.
- Increase funding for afterschool and summer learning program infrastructure through the Department of Education’s 21st CCLC initiative.
- Holistic measures for students and schools that include their health, safety and education.
- Universal training for personnel who work with youth in schools and community settings.
- Proactive efforts by community organizations, schools and parents, working together to ensure that all children are connected to the community in meaningful ways at each stage of development.