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Afterschool Policy Snacks
NOV
19
2015

POLICY
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ESEA reauthorization one step closer to final passage

By Jillian Luchner

The House and Senate conference committee for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Act (formerly No Child Left Behind) met to complete their amendment process today on a compromise framework for the new bill. The committee voted nearly unanimously (with one “no” vote) to accept and move the framework out of the committee and into full chamber votes in each house of Congress.

In next steps, the framework will be converted into the full text of the bill, an action expected to be final by November 30. Representative John Kline, conference chair and chair of the House Education and Workforce committee, has said the House could then begin considering the bill December 2 or 3. Senator Lamar Alexander, chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, said the Senate will have a week to review the bill language before it will be brought to the Senate floor, which may be as soon as December 7.

Without the bill language yet made public, information as to the text of the bill has come only from secondary and tertiary sources. However, education and political journalists at Education Week and Politico have noted that 21st Century Community Learning Centers have been preserved with a designated funding stream in the compromise bill. If that is the case, nearly 2 million children in pre-K through 12th grade, and their families and communities, will continue to have access to high-quality afterschool and summer learning programs provided by local school-community partnerships. 

Details regarding STEM support, community school resources and other aspects of the final compromise legislation are expected to be made public after the Thanksgiving holiday. The process of bringing the legislation to this point has not been easy and as Senator Murray, ranking member of the HELP Committee, stated many times during the conference, “this framework is not what I would have written on my own, but it is a compromise.”

The Afterschool Alliance will issue a public statement on the final ESEA compromise bill when the bill is made public for review in advance of expected floor votes in the House and Senate. 

NOV
17
2015

POLICY
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ESEA conferees named, conference committee meeting set

By Erik Peterson

On Tuesday afternoon, the House of Representatives approved a motion to go to conference on reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) appointed House Republican conferees. Following passage of the motion to go to conference, the following Republican members were appointed to serve on the House-Senate conference committee:

  • Rep. John Kline (R-MN), Chairman, Committee on Education and the Workforce
  • Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), Chairman, Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education
  • Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
  • Rep. David P. Roe (R-TN)
  • Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA)
  • Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY)
  • Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN)
  • Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK)
  • Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL)
  • Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI)

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) appointed the following Democratic members to serve on the House-Senate conference committee:

  • Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Ranking Member, Committee on Education and the Workforce
  • Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education
  • Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO)
  • Rep. Susan Bonamici (D-OR)
  • Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA)
  • Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL)
  • Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA)
NOV
17
2015

POLICY
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Update: ESEA conference committee expected to meet this week

By Erik Peterson

As we noted on Friday in an Afterschool Snack blog post, an agreement has been reached between the House and Senate on moving forward with naming an official conference committee to reconcile the differences between S.1177, The Every Child Achieves Act, and H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The content of the proposed framework is still being kept confidential; however, all indications suggest that it includes the language from S. 1177 reauthorizing and strengthening the 21st Century Community Learning Center initiative.

Senate HELP Committee leadership posted a statement last Friday saying in part, “Because of the framework we’ve developed, we are optimistic that the members of the conference committee can reach agreement on a final bill that Congress will approve and the president will sign.”

The House Rules Committee has considered a motion to go to conference and may name House conferees as early as today. The Senate may name its conferees this evening or Wednesday morning. There are reports that the conference committee may start meeting on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. ET, during which time Members will have the opportunity to debate and offer amendments to a framework of recommendations from staff to complete a conference bill on ESEA. The goal will be for the conference committee to complete their work by the end of the week. The conference committee's work will be a public process and may be webcast.  

While there is no current bill language to review, the conference committee report is expected to reach the floor in both chambers in early December for a vote. The conference report will likely be made public after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Learn more about efforts to strengthen 21st CCLC here.

NOV
13
2015

POLICY
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Compromise ESEA reauthorization bill likely on the move, 21st CCLC reportedly included

By Erik Peterson

Washington, DC-based education trade press—such as Education Week and Politico—are reporting that House and Senate education committee chairs and ranking members have reached apreliminary agreement” on a compromise Elementary and Secondary Education Act (formerly No Child Left Behind Act) reauthorization bill that could be voted on by the full House and Senate the first few weeks after the Thanksgiving holiday. Furthermore, an ESEA conference committee could be announced early next week and a meeting of the committee could be held as well. Currently these reports are unofficial and have not been confirmed by the House or Senate education committees. 

Education Week is also reporting on the content of the agreement, stating that:

There's more consolidation in the compromise than there was in the Senate bill, including block granting of physical education, mathematics and science partnerships, and Advanced Placement. Some programs will live on as a separate line item, including the 21st Century Community schools program [sic], which pays for afterschool programs and has a lot support on both sides of the aisle…So did a wrap-around services program that shares some DNA with both Promise Neighborhoods, as well as a community schools program that Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking Democrat in the House, really likes. (Hoyer's support was critical to the survival of that program.)

The Afterschool Alliance has not yet confirmed that the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) initiative or Full Service Community Schools is included in the proposed compromise bill. As a reminder, the bipartisan Senate ESEA bill, the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177) included language that strengthens and supports 21st CCLC while the House version, the Student Success Act (HR 5) eliminates 21st CCLC. 21st CCLC provides almost 2 million young people with access to quality afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs delivered through local school-community partnerships.  More than 670 local, state and national organizations signed a letter to education committee leadership calling for the Senate 21st CCLC language to be included in the compromise bill. Additionally, it is rumored that the STEM program in the Senate bill which included strong afterschool STEM language, was unfortunately consolidated into a large block grant, however that too has not been confirmed.

While we are encouraged by the media reports that 21st CCLC is in fact included in the new ESEA agreement, we reserve judgment and anxiously await the agreement and conference report. Check back here for updates, and learn more about 21st CCLC and ESEA reauthorization here.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Advocacy Congress ESEA
NOV
9
2015

POLICY
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Tell Congress this Thanksgiving season: America's kids should only be Hungry to Learn

By Robert Abare

Across America, millions of youth depend on federally-funded child nutrition programs for the healthy food they need to learn and thrive.

According to the USDA, 20.8 million children from low-income families received free or reduced-price lunches in 2012-2013, and 2.8 million received summer meals in 2012. These numbers demonstrate the profound need for child nutrition programs, especially for low-income families.

Naturally, afterschool and summer learning programs play a critical role in keeping kids’ bodies and minds nourished after the school bell rings—and they depend on child nutrition programs to help cover costs.

What’s On the Table

Now is the time to tell Congress you support these programs, as The Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act of 2010 is now up for reauthorization. This law currently sustains all federal child nutrition programs, like the National School Lunch, Summer Food Service Program, and the Afterschool Snack and Meal Programs. Congress will debate updates to the  legislation in a process commonly referred to as child nutrition reauthorization, or CNR.

NOV
4
2015

POLICY
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Budget deal passes; spending bill on the horizon

By Erik Peterson

Earlier this week, President Obama signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which was based on a negotiated agreement to raise federal spending caps and extend the debt ceiling. This marked the first of three hurdles toward avoiding a government shutdown. With that top-level budget deal now the law of the land, work has begun by House and Senate Appropriations Committee leadership on a fiscal year 2016 spending bill (or bills) to fund the federal government after the December 11th deadline, when the current continuing resolution expires.

The next important step in the appropriations process will be taken by House and Senate appropriations subcommittee chairs and full committee chairs, as they divvy up the $33 billion in non-defense discretionary (NDD) sequestration relief across the 12 appropriations subcommittees.

These so-called 302(b) allocations assigned to each subcommittee will largely determine the fate of the individual agencies, programs, projects, and activities funded by the government. While current legislation already authorizes spending amounts for programs, only the appropriations process can ensure those programs receive their designated funding. Sufficient 302(b) allocations for the Labor Health and Human Services and Education (LHHS) and Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) subcommittees, for example, increase the chances of full funding for programs that support afterschool, summer learning, juvenile justice and informal STEM education programs.

Once 302(b) allocations are set, likely in the next several days, the appropriations subcommittees will get to work re-writing appropriations bills, which will ultimately be compiled into an omnibus bill as the final hurdle. Again, the goal is to pass an omnibus bill before the continuing resolution expires on December 11. 

It is important to note that the threat of a federal government shutdown still looms large. The President has made it clear he will not sign legislation that contains harmful “policy riders” that undermine his priorities. And, while all 187 Democrats and 79 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted in favor of the Bipartisan Budget Act in late October, a significantly large number of Republicans in the House of Representatives voted against it, signaling they may not support an omnibus bill.

Friends of afterschool can weigh in with their members of Congress in support of funding programs that provide quality afterschool and summer learning opportunities to young people.  

 

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learn more about: Budget Congress
OCT
30
2015

POLICY
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Career and Technical Education 2.0

By Jillian Luchner

Vocational education is so 20th century!

At least, that seemed to be the message at a hearing of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce (HEW) while discussing topics around the federal legislation to authorize funding for what is now known as Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs.

Ideally, CTE creates an integrated, open, pipeline that nurtures students’ professional interests and teaches them valuable skills. The process begins in middle school with career exploration and guidance counseling, and continues in high school through career development and hands-on learning. By integrating CTE with higher education, employers, and accreditation systems, the process leaves students either ready to be hired directly into the workforce, or prepared to jump out of the pipeline and into higher education. It even allows students who exit higher education or who have fallen out of the pipeline to jump back in. Stackable credentials allow students to continue to build skills and expertise over the course of their training and career.

The flexible process is driven by close collaborations with K-12, higher education, and local industry and community partners to design programs to fill needs of high-demand, high-wage jobs—from welding to bio-manufacturing.

Yet, while CTE has undergone a re-imagining among certain crowds, panelists at the CTE hearing discussed the lingering stigmas that surround the old vocational education, or “voc ed” system. These misconceptions may lead people to view CTE as less academically rigorous, or as leading to low-paying jobs. When such views are held among parents and guidance counselors, they can exert a strong influence on students’ career paths.

Suggestions for breaking through this stigma (although some argued vocational education never had any stigma at all), included more promotion of the high wage potential of the jobs; eliminating the title “middle skills” jobs; and taking students, parents, and teachers on tours of job sites. Proponents hope the name change from “voc-ed” to CTE will help as well.

Federal support for CTE programs comes from the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Act, last reauthorized in 2006. Members of Congress have expressed interest in possibly reauthorizing the legislation this year and are seeking feedback from the field as to how to update the law. The House Education and Workforce Committee hearing proved that representatives are ready to listen. No legislation has yet been proposed.

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OCT
27
2015

POLICY
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Proposed bipartisan budget deal could maintain investment in education programs

By Erik Peterson

Close to midnight last night, congressional leaders and White House officials announced they had reached an agreement to raise federal spending caps and extend the debt ceiling. Called the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015,” it appears the negotiated proposal would:

  • Divide spending increases equally between defense and nondefense programs for the next two years, fiscal years (FY) 2016 and 2017.
  • Provide $33 billion in Non-Defense Discretionary (NDD) sequestration relief in FY 2016.
  • Provide $23 billion in NDD sequestration relief for FY 2017.
  • Extend the debt ceiling until March 5, 2017

Raising the caps on NDD spending opens the door for maintaining or increasing the federal investment in education programs including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative and Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG), both critical in supporting local school community partnerships that provide quality afterschool and summer learning programs for children.

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