On March 3, just one day before the president released his FY2015 budget proposal, the House Budget Committee issued a report on federal spending related to federal antipoverty efforts entitled The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later. Among the 92 federal programs reviewed in the report is the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative.
The Budget Committee report seeks to examine the effectiveness of Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson’s "War on Poverty" that was launched 50 years ago. According to the report, there are at least 92 federal programs designed to help lower-income Americans, including education and job-training programs, food-aid programs and housing programs.
The report does include a brief entry on the 21st CCLC initiative, the only coordinated federal effort that supports afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs delivered by local schools and community-based organizations. 21st CCLC programs provide students attending high-poverty schools with academic enrichment activities; a broad array of additional services designed to reinforce and complement the regular academic program such as hands-on experiments to excite children about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), access to physical activity, drug and violence prevention programs, counseling programs, art, music, opportunities to be creative, and technology education programs; as well as literacy and related educational development services to the families of children who are served in the program. In addition, afterschool programs provide an infrastructure to bring in other resources to our children including access to mentors, tutors, and nutritious snacks and meals.
Today Pres. Obama released his budget request for the upcoming 2015 fiscal year, which begins this October. With regard to support for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative, the president requested $1.149 billion—reflecting the same level for 21stCCLC as was in the FY2014 omnibus bill that passed in January. As was the case in his budget request last year, the president proposes to radically change 21st CCLC to a competitive grant at the federal level as well as to prioritize 21st CCLC grant funding for new purposes including adding time to the traditional school day or year, and for teacher planning and professional development.
According to the discussion of the budget request for the Department of Education:
Funds would support competitive grants to states, local education agencies, nonprofit organizations, or local governmental entities for projects that provide the additional time, support, and enrichment activities needed to improve student achievement, including projects that support expanding learning time by significantly increasing the number of hours in a regular school schedule and by comprehensively redesigning the school schedule for all students in a school. Projects could also provide teachers the time they need to collaborate, plan, and engage in professional development within and across grades and subjects.
Reps. Kildee, DeLauro introduce bill to strengthen support of afterschool and summer learning programs
Yesterday evening Reps. Dan Kildee (D-MI) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the Afterschool for America's Children Act in the House of Representatives, HR 4086. The legislation would reauthorize and strengthen the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative—the nation’s chief federal funding stream for afterschool programs—by supporting innovative advances taking root in before-school, afterschool and summer learning programs. The bill is companion legislation to S. 326 introduced previously in the Senate. A summary of the legislation is available here.
The House bill:
- 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.
Without a doubt, digital learning has been a buzzword in education circles for a while now. Some call it 21st century learning, some call it common sense and others call it a fad. There’s a general consensus, however, that our education system struggles to keep up with the rate of change in the world around it. For every innovative school and afterschool program, there are countless more with inadequate access to technology and with a limited understanding of its potential. The task of modernizing our education system may seem somewhat daunting, but I must say that this year’s Digital Learning Day and Pres. Obama’s recent remarks about plans for ConnectED left me feeling pretty hopeful that we’re on the brink of a real shift in how we think about what it takes to expand access to digital learning opportunities.
Unsurprisingly, funding is often viewed as a road block to progress. It takes money to build the infrastructure, more money to buy the technology, and still more money for maintenance and professional development. Let’s face it—digital learning is expensive, and increased funding is not necessarily the easiest thing to come by.
Afterschool leader praises 2014 budget, lauds Congress for 'prioritizing children and working families'
By Jodi Grant
Statement of Jodi Grant, Executive Director, Afterschool Alliance
“The omnibus appropriations bill that Congress passed this week is a welcome step in the right direction toward prioritizing children and working families, as the country makes hard spending choices.
In restoring nearly $60 million in sequester cuts to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative, Congress signaled that keeping kids safe, inspiring them to learn, and helping working families are priorities. That is very good news, as is the funding level of $1.149 billion, now in place for the remainder of FY2014. The 21st CCLC is the nation’s chief federal funding stream for afterschool and summer learning programs, providing badly needed programs to 1.1 million students, many of whom would otherwise be unsupervised and at-risk when schools are closed.
This appropriations bill is also a step forward in terms what it does not contain—language that would allow 21st CCLC funds to be diverted for purposes other than providing the afterschool, before-school and summer programs children so urgently need.
With only a few days before the Continuing Resolution funding the federal government expires on Wednesday, House and Senate appropriators unveiled the Fiscal Year 2014 (FY2014) Omnibus Appropriations bill last night. For the more than 8 million young people and their families that rely on afterschool and summer learning programs, the proposed Omnibus represents a step in the right direction. Most importantly, the majority of the FY2013 sequester cut to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative is restored, and no language was included allowing the diversion of afterschool funds to other purposes. In addition, there are slight increases in other key funding streams that support afterschool programs.
Congress plans to pass an additional three day Continuing Resolution to allow time to consider and pass the FY2014 Omnibus bill. The Omnibus is a compromise between House and Senate appropriations committees and was made possible as a result of the budget deal struck between House and Senate Budget Committee Chairs last month, funding the government at $1 trillion through the end of September. Both the House and Senate must pass the Omnibus bill and the president must sign it before it becomes law.
By Jen Rinehart
From K-12 classrooms to afterschool settings to higher education, there is a growing recognition that we need an education system that measures student success based on competencies rather than on the amount of time that a student spends in the classroom. While thecompetency-based education movement gained attention and traction in 2013, it's not a new idea. In fact, some states and communities have been implementing competency-based learning for years with great success.
For example, New Hampshire has taken a competency-based approach to K-12 education for more than a decade. Earlier this year, the movement extended beyond K-12 education and into the higher education realm. Southern New Hampshire University's College for America is the first in the nation to be approved to receive federal funding based on students demonstrating mastery instead of accumulating a predetermined number of classroom hours. This competency-based structure ensures that students have acquired the most relevant and necessary workforce skills, such as communication and creative thinking.
This move away from seat time at all levels of education is great news for the afterschool community. Afterschool advocates have long been touting the value of learning opportunities that take place outside the traditional classroom. Afterschool and summer programs provide learning opportunities that are often offered by diverse community partners on topics that are relevant and interesting to students. These programs reinforce and support in-school learning and provide access to adult experts who can provide enriching learning experiences that are not available during the regular school day. In the process, students master academic and other competencies, and apply their learning in real-world settings.
While many students nationwide are excitedly awaiting their winter holiday break, for the 21 million children who rely on school breakfast and lunch as their primary source of nutrition, school holidays can lead to hunger pains. Since 2011, the Afterschool Meals Program offered through the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) has provided federal funding to afterschool programs operating in low-income areas to serve meals and snacks to children 18 and under during school holidays as well as after school and on weekends. A number of schools will offer meals during their winter breaks.
Other communities are coming together to provide students in need with a backpack of groceries to take home to their families and provide nourishment over the long school holiday. In Erie, Pennsylvania, more than 1,000 second- and third-graders, will receive five-pound bags of food to take home for the winter break. Coordinators with the Erie School District and Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania's backpack program know that these children will be without free school meals until they return to school on Jan. 2. In Hancock, Michigan, volunteers packed 6,000 meals into backpacks to ensure that 125 students in the area would have food for three daily meals over the 16-day break.