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Afterschool Policy Snacks
NOV
30
2016

POLICY
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Who is Trump's nominee for education secretary, Betsy DeVos?

By Erik Peterson

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Last week, President-elect Donald Trump announced the selection of Michigan philanthropist and education activist Betsy DeVos as his nominee for education secretary. DeVos is an advocate for school choice, including private school voucher programs, and is a past chairwoman of the Republican Party of Michigan.

DeVos is expected to go through the confirmation process in the Senate early next year. Little is known about her position on education issues; however, she has reportedly kept quiet about Common Core, which President-elect Trump heavily criticized during the campaign. She has served as chairwoman of the board of the Alliance for School Choice and heads the All Children Matter Political Action Committee, which she and her husband founded in 2003 to promote school vouchers, tax credits to businesses that give private school scholarships, and candidates who support these causes.

Her other activities on behalf of public-school reform have included membership on the boards of directors of  Advocates for School Choice, the American Education Reform Council, and the Education Freedom Fund. She has chaired the boards of Choices for Children and Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP), and is chair of the American Federation for Children (AFC), which describes itself as "a leading national advocacy organization promoting school choice, with a specific focus on advocating for school vouchers and scholarship tax credit programs."

DeVos also serves on the board the Foundation for Excellence in Education, an organization connected with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush that envisions an education system capable of maximizing every student's potential for learning and preparing them for success in the 21st century. 

NOV
22
2016

POLICY
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ESSA offers opportunities for the arts

By Elizabeth Tish

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) officially replaced No Child Left Behind (NCLB) as the guiding, major federal education law in December of 2015. Since implementing ESSA takes time, ESSA’s changes will start taking effect during the 2017-18 school year. ESSA includes several opportunities for states and local school districts to utilize flexible federal funds to provide students with afterschool and summer learning programs, STEM learning, physical activity, and arts education.   

The Arts Education Partnership, working with the Education Commission of the States, recently released ESSA: Mapping Opportunities for the Arts. The new resource can help school and community based afterschool providers and advocates understand how ESSA opportunities can support arts education that contributes to a well-rounded student education.  

Opportunities for the arts in Title I programs

The programs of ESSA's Title I, Part A are designed to ensure that all students have access to a high-quality education. The evidence-based programs supported by Title I funds assist students who are academically at risk, and these programs help close the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and those who enjoy more resources. There are many opportunities to include arts education opportunities that help achieve these goals in Title I, Part A:

State plans. Each state must submit an accountability plan to the Department of Education each year, including at least one indicator of school quality or student success beyond student achievement, graduation rates and English proficiency. This means that states could choose to include an arts-related indicator, such as the number of arts course offerings, the percentage of high school students enrolled in arts courses that provide postsecondary credit, or the proportion of certified arts educators to students.

Local Education Agency (LEA) plans. To receive Title I funding, a district must submit a plan to the state education agency that describes how it will identify inequities in educational opportunities and help close the achievement gap for all students, including a description of how the district will provide a well-rounded education. A district can choose to provide a description of its arts education programs and the role of those programs in providing all students a well-rounded education. LEAs can opt to use their Title I Part A funds to support out of school arts programming as well. 

Schoolwide Programs. To be eligible for schoolwide program funds, schools must have at least 40 percent of their students identified as coming from low-income families and create a schoolwide plan which embraces whole school reform. As a part of a well-rounded education, these plans may incorporate the arts as strategies to provide all students the opportunity to achieve.

Targeted assistance schools. Schools that do not meet the poverty threshold for schoolwide programs can use Title I funding to create programs targeted to help academically at-risk students meet the state’s academic standards. The arts, as part of a well-rounded education, can be included as a potential strategy for meeting the objectives set by schools for the Targeted Assistance Schools programs, using the traditional school day or out-of-school time.

Parent and family engagement. Engaging the families of students is an important aspect of ESSA and appears in several areas of Title I. Examples of family engagement using the arts might include: incorporating arts programming in a back-to-school night, schools providing parents with expectations for their children in arts classes, or encouraging parents to work with their schools in developing schoolwide plans that value the arts as a strategy in closing the achievement gap.

To learn more about ESSA and the arts, read the full report and visit this webpage for additional resources on topics such as accountability, assessments, and state plans.  Have more questions about how ESSA affects afterschool? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions on 21st CCLC and ESSA.

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learn more about: ESEA Federal Policy Arts
NOV
17
2016

POLICY
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Congress begins lame duck session to address spending bills and more

By Erik Peterson

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

This week Congress resumed its 114th session a week after the Congressional and Presidential election. The so-called ‘lame duck’ session is expected to last through mid-December with a break for the Thanksgiving holiday. The exact agenda for the session is still somewhat unclear but a number of activities are expected to be addressed.

The top priority is ensuring the federal government remains funded after the current FY2017 continuing resolution expires on December 9, 2016. While previously it appeared Congress would pass an omnibus spending bill or mini-bus spending bills, it now looks like Congress will pass a second short-term continuing resolution instead, funding the government through March of 2017.

House Republicans pushed the decision not enact full-year funding bills but to instead pass another continuing resolution (CR) through the end of March – half-way through the 2017 fiscal year.  President-elect Trump is reported to have favored this approach, which will let the Republican Congress and President finalize the remaining 11 appropriations bills, including the bill funding education programs. Senate Democrats and President Obama have reportedly signaled that they would accept a new CR if it was “clean” of policy riders. This second CR could include more changes in funding for specific programs (known as anomalies) and a different across-the-board cut to keep total funding under the defense and non-defense caps.  The final Labor-HHS-Education bill funding the second half of the year may look similar or very different from the ones approved by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees earlier this year. 

What does this mean for afterschool?

Funding for afterschool programs like the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative and Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) would be subject to the across the board funding cut in the new CR. Funding levels for these programs in the final spending bill in March when Congress takes up spending again will be uncertain. 

Additional legislation relevant to afterschool programs that could be considered during the lame duck include reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. All three of these have bipartisan versions alive in the Senate or House but would need additional work and time to advance to the President’s desk. Currently it appears none of these measures have the momentum needed to pass.  

Also during first week of the lame duck session, newly elected members of Congress participated in new member orientation, and House and Senate leadership for the 115th Congress was elected. Some committee assignments and leadership posts have begun to be posted as well. Among the changes so far, the new Ranking Member on the Senate Appropriations Committee will be Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) replacing retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).  Sen. Patty Murray (D0WA) will continue as both Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member and LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member. 

You can make an impact by introducing yourself to officials who have just been elected in your community. Use the sample letter available in our election kit to begin cultivating these lawmakers as allies for your afterschool program and plant the seeds of a valuable partnership.

NOV
15
2016

POLICY
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Guest blog: How the election played out at the state level

By Robert Abare

Written by Ashley Wallace, Program Manager at the National Conference of State Legislatures

The Minnesota State Capitol. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

In the past week since Election Day, the top of the ticket has certainly garnered a lot of attention and discussion. However, state legislative races and state ballot initiatives also made their mark, as voters in 35 states decided 154 statewide ballot measures and chose from among more than 10,000 candidates seeking state legislative seats.

Republicans will control 66 of the 98 partisan state legislative chambers. Democrats will control 30 chambers and one chamber will be tied. The New York Senate is still undecided. This means Republicans will control both chambers in 32 states, which is an all-time high for the party. Democrats will control both chambers in 13 states and three states will split control or be tied. Overall, turnover in the state legislatures this election was about 25 percent, which is about average.

Here are the chambers that changed hands

Three chambers switched from Democratic to Republican control:

  • Kentucky House
  • Iowa Senate
  • Minnesota Senate

Four chambers switched from Republican to Democratic control:

  • New Mexico House
  • Nevada Assembly
  • Nevada Senate
  • Washington Senate (Republicans, however, will have functional control as one Democrat will caucus with the Republicans.)

And one chamber, the Connecticut Senate, will be tied.

There are also a few chambers across the country who have a more complicated future. The Alaska House will be governed by a coalition that gives Democrats functional control of the chamber, despite Republicans leading the chamber numerically. And Democrats now control every seat in the Hawaii Senate, the first time one party has completely controlled a chamber since 1980. However, the big takeaway of the legislative races is that Republicans exceeded expectations in a year when many expected Democrats to net seats and chambers.

Republicans entered the elections having 31 governors and managed to pick up three by winning in Missouri, New Hampshire and Vermont. This will mean the most Republican Governors since 1998. Republican pickups in governor’s races means fewer states under split control. Republicans will have full control of state government in 24 states, Democrats will have full control in six and only 17 states will split control.

The outlook on education and afterschool

There are a few education-related approved ballot initiatives that may be of note to the afterschool field. Oregon passed Measure 98, requiring the legislature to fund dropout prevention and career and college readiness programs in Oregon high schools, and Measure 99, creating a fund to provide outdoor school programs statewide through the Oregon Lottery Economic Development. Meanwhile, Mainers approved a new 3 percent income tax for incomes of more than $200,000, with revenues going to K-12 education.

Finally, those in the afterschool field may recognize Nebraska’s newly elected state senator, Anna Wishart. Ms. Wishart is a former White-Riley-Peterson fellow.


For more state-focused election analysis, visit the National Conference of State Legislatures. To read more on how the 2016 election will affect education policy and afterschool, see the Afterschool Snack's breakdown of Donald Trump's record on education, and what to expect from his administration and the 115th Congress.

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learn more about: Election Guest Blog State Policy
NOV
11
2016

POLICY
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Looking toward a new year, administration and Congress

By Erik Peterson

The results of the 2016 presidential race, as of November 11, 2016. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

With the election behind us, many are asking what's next with regard to the next administration and Congress. While it's too soon to answer all the questions, it is a good time to think through timelines and strategies for working with the transition team for the new administration as well as the new 115th Congress.

President-elect Donald Trump's transition transition team has been quietly working in Washington for the past several months (as had Hillary Clinton's transition team), reviewing potential cabinet position nominees and developing plans for the first 100 days of Trump's presidency. While some potential cabinet members have been discussed in the media, there has been little speculation about a possible Secretary of Education, though former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson has been floated as a possibility. President-elect Trump has also suggested that he might pick someone from business for the post. Williamson M. Evers and Gerard Robinson are on the Trump transition team, and have been developing possible education policy positions. Evers is a research fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution, and Robinson, who was Florida’s commissioner of education for a year, is a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Robinson also served as principal investigator on the 2007 Mott-funded study “More than homework, a snack, and basketball: Afterschool Programs as an Oasis of Hope for Black Parents in Four Cities,” published by the Black Alliance for Educational Options.

The Afterschool Alliance submitted a memo to the Trump transition team calling for continued support of children and working parents through leveraging federal funds used by local school and community based-afterschool and summer learning programs. Additionally, the memo calls for the following:

  • Set a date and agenda for a White House summit on the role community programs, faith-based organizations and supports beyond the school day can have in keeping young people safe and secure from crime and preparing young people for jobs and careers.
  • Participate in the April 5, 2017 Ready to Work Summit to be hosted by the University of Southern California Schwarzenegger Institute on the role of afterschool in preparing our students for the future, by sending an official representative.
  • Appoint a Secretary of Education that is a champion of school-community partnerships. A good leader understands the importance of partnerships, listens to the voices of young people and communities, and is aware of inequities that must be met head on to close persistent opportunity and achievement gaps. Our next Secretary of Education must focus on opportunities for every American student and lift up school-community partnerships such as those employed in afterschool programs and community schools as vehicles to do so.

During the campaign for the presidency, President-elect Trump put forth federal policy proposals that support afterschool programs for children, as part of his child care plan.

NOV
9
2016

POLICY
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Donald Trump won. What's next for afterschool?

By Rachel Clark

Photo by Michael Vadon

After a marathon campaign, property developer and reality television personality Donald Trump has been elected the 45th President of the United States with 279 electoral votes to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 228—31 electoral votes are still up for grabs.

Despite dominating the headlines for the last 18 months, the race for the White House has devoted little attention to key domestic policy issues like K-12 education and child care, thus leaving many voters wondering what to expect under a Trump Administration.

We examined Trump’s proposals and public statements, as well as the Republican Party platform, to get a sense of what the afterschool community can expect from the next president.

The Republican platform

The Republican Party platform emphasizes “choice-based, parent-driven accountability at every stage of schooling.” It promises to repeal the Common Core State Standards, and supports a constitutional amendment affirming parents’ rights to “direct their children’s education, care and upbringing.”

The platform prioritizes building a “choice-based” education system that gives families a range of educational options, including homeschooling, career and technical education, private and parochial schools, charter systems, online programs, and early college high schools. It also recognizes teachers’ role as partners in children’s education and the importance of supporting teachers while maintaining accountability, proposing merit pay structures to recognize effective teachers, as well as background checks for all personnel who interact with children.

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learn more about: Obama
NOV
3
2016

POLICY
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A new grant program in ESSA is an opportunity for afterschool STEM and more

By Anita Krishnamurthi

President Obama signs the Every Student Succeeds Act into law.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the new education law of the land, established a number of new, flexible funding streams that states and districts can employ to support afterschool programs. One of these is the new Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants program (SSAE), in the law's Title IV Part A. 

Late last month, the US Department of Education released non-regulatory guidance on the SSAE grant program to help states, districts and schools provide students with a more well-rounded education. ESSA authorized $1.65 billion annually for this program (though Congress is debating the final funding level), which will provide funding to every state and district to support well-rounded learning opportunities with a strong emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, as well as learning technologies and programs that keep students safe and healthy. The SSAE grants program is intended to be distributed by formula to districts, according to the following stipulations:

  • Ninety-five percent of the funds will flow to school districts, to be spent largely at their discretion, with the remaining 5 percent reserved for state-level activities. 
  • Every district will receive at least $10,000 through the program, and those receiving more than $30,000 in federal funds under the program (all but the smallest school districts will likely cross this threshold) must devote 20 percent to “well-rounded” learning activities, which include a large variety of STEM activities.

There are a nubmer of activities specifically authorized under ESSA and detailed in the new Department of Education guidance for the SSAE grants program that are helpful for afterschool STEM.

Opportunities for afterschool STEM in the SSAE grant program

  • “Facilitating collaboration among school, afterschool program, and informal program personnel to improve the integration of programming and instruction in the identified [STEM] subjects” [Sec. 4107 (a)(3)(C)(v)]
  • “Providing hands-on learning and exposure to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and supporting the use of field-based or service learning to enhance the students’ understanding of the STEM subjects” [Sec. 4107 (a)(3)(C)(iii)]
  • “Supporting the participation of low-income students in nonprofit competitions related to STEM subjects (such as robotics, science research, invention, mathematics, computer science, and technology competitions)” [Sec. 4107 (a)(3)(C)(ii)]
  • “Activities and programs to support student access to, and success in, a variety of well-rounded education experiences” [Sec. 4107 (a)(3)(J)]

The guidance issued last month also provides specific program examples that will help school districts and local communities better navigate these opportunities included in the law.

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learn more about: Education Reform ESEA Federal Policy
OCT
19
2016

POLICY
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Youth organizations send letter to Congress in support of 21st CCLC

By Erik Peterson

Late last month, Congress avoided a government shutdown by passing a short-term FY2017 continuing resolution (CR). The temporary stopgap funding measure set spending levels at the FY 2016 spending levels through December 9, 2016.

Congress is currently on recess prior to Election Day on November 8, 2016, but will be faced with passing a more permanent spending bill when they return the week of November 14th. House and Senate appropriations staff are now meeting to review and negotiate differences in the spending bills passed this summer by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. 

As more than one million parents, students and supporters prepare to celebrate Lights On Afterschool at more than 8,000 events nationwide tomorrow, October 20; major education, youth development and child advocacy organizations sent a letter to Congressional appropriators calling on them to fund 21st CCLC at $1.16 billion, the level included in the House Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) education spending bill