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JUN
21
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: June 21, 2017

By Luci Manning

Trump Education Cuts Could Hurt Local Students (Newbury Port News, New Hampshire)

Afterschool professionals in Seabrook, New Hampshire, are worried about how President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant program will affect the kids who partake in their programs. Afterschool Ambassador Forrest Carter Jr. runs Seabrook Adventure Zone, which hosts programs for 174 kids after school and in the summer, giving kids a safe place after school and learning opportunities. “People need to be politically active and to be vocal,” he told Newbury Port News. “They need to reach out and contact their federal representatives and request they support this grant program.”

Stratford Grad Looks at After-School (Pauls Valley Democrat, Oklahoma)

Recent Stratford High School graduate Gia Fires had the opportunity to share her afterschool experience with her U.S. senators and representatives last week as part of the Afterschool for All Challenge. She was one of six afterschool students selected to attend the event and meet with her elected officials to urge them to support funding for afterschool programs. “This trip was a whole new experience for me,” she told the Pauls Valley Democrat. “I loved meeting new people from all over the country and getting a chance to speak with Representative Tom Cole and Senators James Lankford and James Inhofe about how the SAFE C3 program had such a positive impact on my life.”

Columbus State Program Helps Immigrant, Refugee Kids Acclimate After School and in Summer (Columbus Dispatch, Ohio)

Several ESL afterschool programs, run by the Columbus State Community College, are helping ease the transition for area refugee and immigrant students. “We’ve all heard the adage, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’” Prairie Norton Principal Mike Gosztyla told the Columbus Dispatch. “Well, I say it takes the community.” Over the past 13 years, the ESL Afterschool Communities have helped 2,326 immigrant and refugee children build social and academic skills through a myriad of activities. On any given afternoon, students can be found working on writing persuasive letters, learning about wildlife conservation from a local zookeeper or running through soccer drills.

After-School Programs for Poor: Boost for Kids or a $1 Billion Boondoggle? (Sun-Sentinel, Florida)

About 8,000 children in South Florida, many from low-income families, participate in federally-funded afterschool programs, many of which are in danger under President Trump’s budget proposal. The programs offer learning opportunities in art, writing, computer coding, physical fitness and more. Many single parents like Briget Louis, who sends her son to the Boys and Girls Club in West Palm Beach, rely on afterschool programs to occupy their children before they get home from work and worry about the potential budget cuts. “How can I manage my financial life, my career, be able to provide for him?” she told the Sun-Sentinel. “If he’s not in a safe place, how can you do that as a single parent?”

JUN
9
2017

POLICY
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Secretary DeVos testifies before Senate Appropriations subcommittee

By Erik Peterson

On June 6, hours before afterschool advocates took to the Hill to meet with 200 members of Congress, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testified in front of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) on the U.S. Department of Education (ED) Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget proposal. Senators of both parties who questioned the proposed elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) initiative brought up the topic of federal afterschool funding.

Just as the House hearing last month was highly partisan and politically charged, so was the Senate hearing. Democrats and DeVos clashed about the federal role in protecting students from discrimination, whether federal laws would apply to students who used vouchers to attend private schools, and about cuts to federal grant and loan programs.

Republicans were considerably friendlier to DeVos, but many expressed their support for programs that were on the chopping block, including Community Learning Centers, Perkins Career and Technical Education program, student grants for higher education and Impact Aid. Repeatedly, DeVos reiterated well-rehearsed lines such as “if schools are taking federal funds, they need to follow federal law” while refusing to elaborate. While the partisanship was palpable, DeVos remained measured and calm.

JUN
8
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: June 8, 2017

By Luci Manning

After-School Programs Are a Lifeline for Kids and Parents (Boston Globe, Massachusetts)

Former Treasury Secretary and Harvard University President Emeritus Lawrence Summers and Citizen Schools CEO Emily McCann argue that afterschool programs are a key part of America’s educational system in a Boston Globe op-ed: “We need to recognize as a nation that education is about more than the school day and school year. It is about what happens before children are ready to enter school, what happens during half the days in the year when they are not in school, what happens after school ends and before a parent comes home, and about how students transition from school to work…. The reality is that a significant majority of Americans support federal funding for after-school programs because those programs measurably benefit students, working families, and the broader economy – and that’s good for all of us.”

Trump’s Proposed Budget Targets After-School Program in 12 St. Louis-Area School Districts (St. Louis Public Radio, Missouri)

Under President Trump’s budget proposal, some 600 students in the St. Louis area would lose out on tutoring, healthy meals, educational opportunities and more benefits of a popular afterschool program. Judy King, the leader of St. Louis Public Schools extracurricular activities, told St. Louis Public Radio that afterschool programs “provide just a really safe place for our kids to be, keeps them off the streets, gives them some place to go.” The program relies on federal funding, which is in jeopardy under the president’s budget.

Money Well Spent: Area Before- and After-School Programs Are Worth the Investment (Keene Sentinel, New Hampshire)

A Keene Sentinel editorial urges local school districts to continue funding afterschool programs: “Before- and after-school programs offer students from kindergarten thought middle school a chance for extra learning and homework help, raising test scores and academic skills…. at a time when federal and state support of public education seems shaky, at best, programs that give students – and parents – a needed boost are more important than ever.”

After-School Programs Investment in Safety and Security (East Bay Times, California)

In an East Bay Times op-ed, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley and retired U.S. Coast Guard vice admiral Jody Breckenridge urge California legislators to prioritize funding for afterschool in the state’s FY 2017-18 budget: “After-school programs make us safer and stronger in the short term, by keeping kids off the streets and in productive and healthy environments during peak hours for crime by and against children. Over the long term, these programs improve attendance and keep students on track to graduate – increasing the odds that they will become productive, law-abiding citizens.… The safety and security of our communities in Alameda County and across the state depends on keeping after-school programs adequately funded.”

MAY
26
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Not The Onion: Horses, surfboards, and cyberattacks in afterschool

By Jodi Grant

Photo by Pete Markham

Despite a wealth of research showing the importance of afterschool and widespread popularity with parents, students, teachers and community leaders, programs have never been more threatened. This week the president decided to double down on his call to eliminate afterschool funding in his 2018 budget proposal, leaving 1.6 million kids’ with no where to go after school. It’s a serious matter with implications for Americans across the country.  The cut has caught the attention of major national media, local media across the country, and late night comedians and Saturday Night Live.  

The Afterschool Alliance isn’t exempt from the heightened publicity. On Monday, we had our first mention in The Onion, which wrote a satirical piece on the Secretary of Education’s new plan to replace 21st Century Community Learning Centers with afterschool polo programs across the country.

I was flattered to be mentioned, but as in all great satire, the piece contained a lot of truth. If the Secretary of Education did call me, I’d be thrilled to tell her about pretty amazing afterschool programs. I haven’t heard of afterschool polo yet, but given the creativity and ingenuity local communities across the nation have developed, I would not be surprised. Afterschool programs keep kids safe, boost student success, and help working families – and quite often, they also blow your mind.

MAY
26
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Sign your organization to the HOST Coalition letter

By Charlotte Steinecke

With the Trump administration’s full FY2018 budget released just this week, it’s time for afterschool programs, professionals, and organizations to rally together and push back against a budget that would eliminate federal afterschool and out-of-school time funding.

The Healthy Out-of-School Time Coalition has drafted a letter to Congress that sends a strong, unified message in support of federal policies and programs that promote health and wellness for children across the country. The letter particularly mentions the ways afterschool, before-school, and summer learning programs provide a crucial link between federal health and wellness policies for children and the real life actions that help children grow up strong, active, and at a healthy childhood weight.

“With an established record of accomplishment, afterschool and summer learning programs should not be underestimated as potential 'game changers' in promoting wellness among young people and therefore funding that support these programs must be maintained,” the letter reads.

National or state organizations are strongly urged to sign the letter in order to demonstrate the broad support for healthy out of school time programs.

Read the letter here. To sign on, click here and complete the form by 5 p.m. EDT on Friday, June 2.

MAY
25
2017

POLICY
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Secretary DeVos testifies on administration’s education budget

By Erik Peterson

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Yesterday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies on the Trump administration’s newly released FY2018 full education budget proposal. While the hearing mainly focused on school choice, vouchers, and state flexibility, several members of Congress spoke out against the proposed elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) afterschool initiative.

Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) opened the hearing, followed by opening statements by Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.).

Rep. DeLauro ran through a list of programs that are on the chopping block, including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which “help keep two million kids safe after school.” Observing that “education is the great equalizer in our country,” DeLauro highlighted the necessity of quality education resources for the most vulnerable.

“We have an achievement gap in this country—and it is worse in high-poverty areas, both urban and rural. Yet these are the very areas we would starve with this budget,” DeLauro said.

Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) noted that afterschool programs are one of her favorite education initiatives because even if you “can’t get behind” educational enrichment activities, these programs can guarantee working parents that their children are safe after the school day ends. She also pointed out the stark contrast between the president’s proposed FY2018 and the bipartisan omnibus package just passed earlier in May.

Secretary DeVos testified in support of the budget, followed by an extended question and answer period. Reps. DeLauro, Lowey and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) all spoke out in support of the Community Learning Centers federal afterschool and summer learning program.

“[This] morally bankrupt budget steals health care from children and food assistance from hungry families in order to pad the pockets of billionaires and defense contractors,” Lee said. “If their budget is enacted, afterschool programs will close. Seniors will be forced to forgo medical care. Parents will have to choose between paying the rent and putting food on the table.”

While Secretary DeVos did not directly address the proposed cut to afterschool, she did speak to the need for creativity in education, stating, “ I want to unleash a new era of creativity and ingenuity in the education space. My hope is that—working in concert with each of you—we can make education in America the envy of the rest of the world.”

The afterschool field has long been a home to innovation and creativity and we look forward to continuing to make that case to the Secretary.

The subcommittee is expected to consider the FY2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education spending bill later this summer. While the president’s budget proposal eliminates afterschool funding, the subcommittee will ultimately determine the funding level for Community Learning Centers and all other education and human services programs. Earlier this spring, more than 80 members of Congress from all across party lines submitted a letter to the subcommittee calling for full funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

Friends of afterschool programs can reach out to members of Congress now, sending a clear message: Americans support afterschool and summer learning programs! Add your voice and take action now, and join us on June 7 for a national call-in day to send a clear message of support for afterschool funding for 2018 and for years to come.

MAY
24
2017

POLICY
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Number crunch: Details from the president's FY2018 budget

By Erik Peterson

Photo of Mick Mulvaney by Gage Skidmore

Yesterday, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney released the Trump administration’s fiscal year 2018 full budget proposal, following up on the “skinny budget” outline released in March. The full budget represents the president’s vision for how Congress should spend federal funds for the upcoming fiscal year that begins October 1, 2017 (FY18).

Consistent with the skinny budget released in March, the full budget proposal proposes the elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative, which funds local afterschool programs in all 50 states. That proposal, which would devastate the 1.6 million children and families, comes in stark contrast to the strong support for afterschool recently displayed in Congress in the passage of the bipartisan FY17 omnibus spending bill last month, which included a $25 million increase to Community Learning Centers.

A budget opposed to research

The budget proposal, titled A New Foundation for American Greatness, attempts to justify the proposed elimination of Community Learning Centers by claiming that a lack of evidence exists that links the program to increased student achievement. In fact, over a decade of data and evaluations provide compelling evidence that Community Learning Center afterschool programs do in fact yield positive outcomes for participating children.

The Community Learning Centers initiative was reauthorized in December 2015 in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and saw its funding increased in the 2016 bipartisan omnibus spending bill. However, even with this strong support across party lines and a wealth of research to the contrary, the administration continues to maintain that the Community Learning Centers program is ineffective. The only evidence the administration uses to back its claim is hand-selected data that ignores more than a decade of evidence from numerous researchers showing that afterschool works. 

In fact, the Department of Education’s most recent report on Community Learning Centers finds that half of the students regularly participating in Community Learning Center programs improved their math and reading grades, two-thirds improved their homework and class participation, and more than half improved their classroom behavior. One out of four students moved from “not proficient” to “proficient” or better in both math and reading test scores. Considering that Community Learning Centers programs work with some of the most disadvantaged children and youth, many of whom would otherwise be unsupervised after school, we should be celebrating these victories.

MAY
24
2017

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: May 24, 2017

By Luci Manning

After-School Funding Is a Smart Public Investment (Springfield News-Leader, Missouri)

Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams argues for 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding in a Springfield News-Leader op-ed: “Over the long run, these programs can improve social-emotional skill development, classroom behavior, school attendance and high school graduation rates. That matters a lot to those of us in law enforcement because high school dropouts are three times more likely to be arrested and eight times more likely to be incarcerated than those who graduate…. By every measure, funding for these important programs is an investment that parents, kids and taxpayers can bank on in the years to come.”

Hamilton Couple Helps Youth Gain Valuable ‘Experience’ (Journal-News, Ohio)

Students in the Hamilton Boys and Girls Club can now earn the privilege of participating in special activities by regularly attending afterschool programs and demonstrating positive behavior, according to the Journal-News. The Club’s Experience program has been active for a year, providing the students with positive environments and enrichment activities like college visits, camping and art—opportunities that they may not normally have access to. “It’s fun for them to be able to try some of these things that they may not have the chance to be exposed to otherwise without the Experience program,” founder Krista Parrish said.

UPS Club Mentors High School Students to Broaden World of Computer Science (News Tribune, Washington)

A new program is helping Lincoln High Schoolers learn the fundamentals of coding alongside college students from the University of Puget Sound’s Beta Coders club. The diverse group of UPS computer science students tutors the teens in coding and animation, aiming to show them that anyone can pursue a future in STEM. “Many people see computer science to be an intimidating field that only a select few can strive in,” junior and club leader Sofia Schwartz told the News Tribune, “but I wanted to show people that it isn’t so complicated after all.”

Students Work with Horses as Part of After-School Club (Daily Nonpareil, Iowa)

Each week, ten fourth- and fifth-graders from Longfellow Elementary School have the opportunity to ride horses at the Seefus Riding Stable as part of a special afterschool program. Students take turns riding and learning to care for the horses and riding equipment. “Students get to interact and learn something they may not be learning in the classroom,” fifth-grade teacher and club leader Cassie Wall told the Daily Nonpareil. “It’s a really different experience and they can find out they do have passions for things other than what they’ve known.”