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VIDEO: Partisan ESEA reauthorization bill passes House, Rep. Kildee champions afterschool

By Erik Peterson

The Republican Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill passed the House of Representatives this morning by a vote of 221 to 207, with 12 Republicans joining House Democrats in opposing the bill.

HR 5, the Student Success Act, does not reauthorize the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, which could lead to more than 1.1 million students losing access to desperately needed afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs that keep students safe, inspire learning and provide a lifeline for our hard working families.  While the bill does create the Local Competitive Grant Program that would fund “supplemental student support activities such as before, after, or summer school activities, tutoring, and expanded learning time;” it allows the same Grant Program to also support school day activities, such as academic subject-specific programs, adjunct teacher programs, extended learning time programs, dual enrollment programs and parent engagement. At a time when local and state funding is declining, it is likely that this grant would predominantly be used to fund activities during the school day.

On the first day of the two-day floor debate on the bill and its 26 amendments, Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) spoke passionately about the value of afterschool and summer learning programs:

Reps. David Cicilline (D-RI) and Judy Chu (D-CA) also spoke to the value of afterschool programs and wrap-around services during the floor debate. The Afterschool Alliance is grateful to Mr. Kildee, Mr. Cicilline and Mrs. Chu for being great champions of afterschool programs.

The ESEA reauthorization process now moves to the Senate, which could take up their version of the legislation, the Strengthening America’s Schools Act (S. 1094), before the end of the year. Now is the time to voice your support for the next generation of afterschool, before-school, and summer learning programs in ESEA reauthorization. Take action now by asking your senators to reauthorize the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative and support the innovative advances occurring in before-school, afterschool and summer learning programs, re-engaging children in their education and future.