Congress continues work this week on a spending bill for Fiscal Year (FY)2013 to replace the Continuing Resolution (CR) that expires March 27. Last week the House passed its version of the FY2013 spending bill, and the Senate took up their version of a final FY2013 spending bill this week. Both the House and the Senate bills leave the 5 percent across-the-board sequester cut in place. The House CR also includes its own 0.098 percent across-the-board cut on top of the sequester cut. A FY2013 spending bill must be agreed upon by the House and Senate and signed into law by the president before March 27 to prevent a government shut-down.
The Senate has developed a hybrid spending bill to fund the government through Sept. 30, the end of FY2013. This version includes full appropriations bills for more agencies than the House version. The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013—developed in a bipartisan manner by Appropriations Committee Chair Sen. Mikulski (D-MD) and Ranking Member Sen. Shelby (R-AL) includes separate divisions for appropriations to Agriculture; Commerce, Justice and Science; Defense; Homeland Security; and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. The Mikulski-Shelby bill provides about $1 trillion in budget authority, consistent with the Budget Control Act of 2011.
Labor, Health and Human Services as well as Education programs were not included in the Mikulski-Shelby bill and therefore would be funded under a regular CR, which would extend programs’ funding at FY2012 levels through the end of the current fiscal year. The spending bill does include a $50 million increase for the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF), significant because not many programs were slated for modest increases. The 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative is funded at $1.15 billion in FY2012 and (like most non-defense discretionary funding) will be subject to the 5 percent sequester cut plus the 0.098 percent cut from the House bill if that remains in the final version of the bill.
The Mikulski-Shelby bill is expected to be voted upon by the full Senate by the end of the week. The House and Senate then must reconcile their differing FY2013 spending bills and pass a final bill before March 27 when the current CR expires. Once the final FY2013 bill passes, check back for final spending levels for key afterschool and summer learning related funding streams.
|Sen. Barbara Boxer at the "Breakfast of Champions"|
Following rousing speeches by Sens. Boxer (D-CA) and Murkowski (R-AK) last week during the "Breakfast of Champions," the bipartisan Afterschool for America’s Children Act, S. 326, wasintroduced in the Senate today. Sens. Boxer (D-CA), Murkowski (R-AK) and Murray (D-WA) introduced the Afterschool for America’s Children Act that reauthorizes the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative and builds on past afterschool and summer learning program success. The bill number, 326, symbolizes the hours of 3 to 6 p.m. when young people should have quality learning and enrichment opportunities.
- 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.
On Feb. 7, 2013, hundreds of you across the country stepped up to the challenge and reached out to your elected officials to let them know that you support afterschool for all:
- More than 120 Congressional offices
- Across 36 states
- More than 100 district meetings & site visits
- Hundreds of phone calls and emails to Congress
- Digital Learning Day celebrations in 23 states
Arkansas: The Arkansas Out of School Network worked with allied organization Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families to take the Afterschool for All Challenge to the state capitol in Little Rock on February 7. Child advocates from across the state met at the Arkansas State Capitol to participate in the legislative process, meet with local legislators, attend legislative committee meetings, and observe lawmakers voting on bills that affect the lives of children and their families.
In conjunction with Kids Count Day, Arkansas Senate Bill 249 was introduced to provide $5 million to fund the pilot phase of the Positive Youth Development Act.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe stopped by Kids Count Day to lead pre-k children in singing Itsy Bitsy Spider. Watch:
Pittsburgh: Director Mila Yochum of Allegheny Partners for Out of School Time (APOST) had several local advocates join her at a series of meetings at the local offices of Rep. Mike Doyle and Sens. Pat Toomey and Pat Casey.
More than 200 state afterschool leaders and experts backed up your outreach with face-to-face meetings on Capitol Hill with senators and representatives to echo your message that afterschool works to keep kids safe, inspire learning and help working families.
This blog post updates a December 19 post that provides more background on what is at stake for afterschool and summer learning programs with regard to the fiscal cliff.
Late yesterday the House of Representatives passed the so-called "fiscal cliff deal," following an early morning passage of the same measure by the Senate. The legislation temporarily averted the “fiscal cliff” (the scheduled across-the-board spending cuts and the expiration of numerous tax breaks.) In the early morning hours of New Year’s Day, the Senate passed H.R. 8, legislation containing the budget agreement, by a vote of 89-8. In the evening hours of January 1, the House passed the Senate bill by a vote of 257-167.
The deal means that sequestration, the automatic spending cuts of over 8 percent that would have impacted domestic programs (including federal education and afterschool funding), have been pushed back from this week until early March. In the coming two months, Congress also must address FY2013 spending as the current Continuing Resolution expires in March as well. Among the unfinished business of the 112th Congress was the Sandy Relief bill, which- although it passed the Senate late last month- was not brought to the floor of the House for a vote. The 113th Congress is scheduled to be sworn in tomorrow. For additional coverage of the fiscal cliff deal see this Education Week blog post.
With two weeks to go until the nation faces the fiscal cliff and across the board spending cuts known as sequestration, it is an opportune time to summarize what we know about the potential impact on afterschool and summer learning. Note that the update below represents activity as of Dec. 19, 2012, but the process is fluid and updates will be posted to this blog as needed.
The big picture of the fiscal cliff and sequestration continues to evolve: negotiations between the White House and the Speaker of the House of Representatives continue. Possible outcomes of these talks could be an extension of current deadlines, a ‘grand bargain’ that addresses revenue and spending, or anything in between. Driving the conversation is the possible extension of Bush-era tax cuts and whether extensions should only be provided for those earning incomes less than $250,000 (or another amount) per year. Spending cuts have been acknowledged publicly but little detail is available on that or any other specific component of a possible deal.
In terms of the impact on before-school, afterschool and summer learning programs, there are several different pieces in play: fiscal year 2013 (FY2013) appropriations, the supplemental spending bill addressing relief from damage caused by Superstorm Sandy, sequestration and the possibility that the charitable deduction may be scaled back as part of a ‘grand bargain’ on the fiscal cliff.
While FY2013 appropriations have been funded close to last year’s levels through a continuing resolution that expires in March 2013; there have been efforts this winter to negotiate and pass an omnibus or minibus spending bill that would include Labor, Health and Humans Services (LHHS) and make policy changes in addition to setting new funding levels for the current fiscal year. With regard to afterschool program funding, amounts are expected to be level with FY2012. However, also being discussed as part of the omnibus is bill language that could divert some 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) funding away from afterschool or summer learning and instead repurpose funds for a longer school day. While the situation is extremely fluid, at this point it does not appear likely that the LHHS spending bill will pass Congress before the end of the 112th Session at the end of December.
Afterschool programs are a natural partner in offering hands-on STEM learning opportunities—and afterschool providers around the country have enthusiastically embraced this idea! We know how crucial STEM skills are for workforce development and the types of creative, innovative learning that takes place within the afterschool environment. STEM afterschool programs have proven results and offer great possibility to play a role in broader STEM education reform.
However, getting that message to influential people in our communities can still be challenging. Effective local and state policies, as well as investments from other stakeholders are crucial to ensuring that quality STEM afterschool programs are available to the children in your community. There are many people and groups that can help you achieve this goal, but all have different perspectives on STEM education and afterschool learning. We know that sorting through these audiences’ needs, figuring out what to ask for and how best to support your case can feel overwhelming.
The Afterschool Alliance has developed a new toolkit to help you become an advocate for STEM in afterschool. “Making the Case for STEM Afterschool” walks you through the steps you’ll need to take to develop a strong case you can effectively present to any audience. It helps you tailor your message, identify data and talking points that support your case, learn about existing policy recommendations that help craft your ask, and see who you can enlist as an ally in your advocacy efforts.
Let us know how you like the advocacy toolkit and check back for periodic updates. Also be sure to check the STEM Policy page to stay updated on developments in national legislation, initiatives and reports that effect STEM afterschool.
Back on Oct. 20, 2011, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed their version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill with a number of amendments. Now, nearly one full year later, the committee officially filed the bill and released accompanying report language that provides additional information on the legislative intent. Significant changes were made to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative as part of the ESEA bill. The report language raises new questions about the impact of the legislation on the ability of local school-community partnerships to utilize federal funds to support quality afterschool and summer learning programs, and appears to scale back previous improvements made to the legislation. It should be noted that this ESEA reauthorization bill will not come before the full Senate in the remaining days of the 112th Congress so, consequently, the ESEA reauthorization process will need to restart again next year.
- Language that prevents a federal preference or priority on which approach (afterschool, summer learning, expanded learning for some students, expanded learning for all students) will be used.
- A stronger requirement for partnerships with community-based organizations, with only a narrow exception for rural communities for whom the requirement would be a significant hardship.
- Clarity of existing language to ensure that either the local education agencies (LEAs) or nonprofit partners can be the lead fiscal agent on 21st CCLC grants.
- New language to ensure that effective and innovative approaches to programs can be utilized by grantees.
A record-breaking 9,300 Lights On Afterschool events celebrating afterschool programs and young people were held around the country this month. In addition to recognizing the value and impact of afterschool programs on young people and their communities, Lights On Afterschool continued this year to be an opportunity to reach policy makers. Friends of afterschool, including parents and children, sent and made more than 600 emails and phone calls to Members of Congress last week. They also signed an online petition in support of afterschool, and now more than 10,900 individuals have signed on to urge that funding for afterschool programs should not be denied or diverted. Lights On Afterschool events also registered voters and raised awareness about the role elected officials play in supporting afterschool program opportunities for young people.
“In 2001, I wrote legislation that led to the first major national investment in afterschool programs. Children who regularly attend these programs have better grades and behavior in school; lower incidences of drug use and pregnancy; and are less likely to be either the perpetrators or victims of crime. Lights On Afterschool highlights the importance of high-quality afterschool programs in the lives of children, their families, and their communities.”