ESEA reauthorization is an opportunity for the afterschool field to suggest changes to the law that can benefit afterschool programs. Key recommendations from the afterschool field include the following:
* Strengthen and fund the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative. Improvements should be made to the program to reflect current research including a new emphasis on alignment with the school day, informal STEM education, physical activity and wellness, and updated performance measures. Many of these recommendations are reflected in the Afterschool for America's Children Act
, S. 326
. A letter of support for the Senate
version of the bill has been signed by over 135 national, state and local organizations. A House version is expected to be introduced as well.
* Federal funding to support a longer school day or expanded learning time programs should require strong partnerships between schools and community based organizations. Programming provided during time added to the school day should complement but not replicate the school day and should include engaged, hands-on learning offered on a voluntary basis to students. See additional explanation of expanded learning opportunites here.
Federal funding for a longer school day should not come at the expense of funding for needed afterschool and summer learning programs.
* Current law should be maintained which provides funds for the 21st CCLC program by formula to the states and District of Columbia, with each State Education Agency (SEA) running a competitive grant program in which local education agencies (LEA), community-based organizations or faith-based organizations can be the lead entity. All grant applications should require school/community partnerships and a strong alignment between the community-based organization and the school.
* Flexibility for the 21st CCLC program should be maintained to allow local communities to determine whether the programming occurs at school, at non-school community-based facilities or a combination of locations.
* Eligibility for the 21st CCLC program state-run competitions should be based on Title I status. With regard to the Carol M. White PEP Grants, the grant program should continue to be open to community based organization and funding should not be consolidated with other programs. Programming should continue to be allowed during afterschool hours.
Letters, fact sheets and ESEA recommendations from the Afterschool Alliance: