Policy News

Policy News
January 11, 2012
Two Draft ESEA Reauthorization Bills Released by House Ed and Workforce Chairman Kline
This past Friday while Congress remained in recess, House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) released two draft Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bills that aim to improve accountability, increase flexibility and support teachers in the classroom.  According to materials released by the committee, the Student Success Act would provide states and school districts flexibility to “meet students’ unique needs” and strengthen programs for targeted populations.  The second draft bill, the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act, aims to grow school choice; support innovative school reform driven by states and school districts, and provide better information to parents on teacher effectiveness.  According to the committee, this bill would also eliminate “unnecessary and ineffective federal programs.” Comments are being accepted on both bills. 
The legislation would impact federal support for afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs. The 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative would essentially be consolidated with other programs by the draft legislation. TheEncouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act establishes the Local Academic Flexible Grant, described as "a new, innovative program to provide grants to state and local school districts to create and fund initiatives based on their own unique priorities. While ensuring the funds are spent to increase academic achievement as part of in-school or after-school activities, states and school districts will have maximum flexibility to spend their funds on any activity authorized under state law." This new block grant, described in Title III, Part B of the bill, would be authorized at $2.68 billion for Fiscal Year 2013, with each state receiving an allotment based on a funding formula tied to income status of students. Local education agencies (LEAs) would compete for about 85 percent of the funds allotted to each state which could be used for evidence-based out-of-school programs and services designed to improve student academic achievement, including “supplemental student support activities, such as after-school activities, tutoring, and extended day, but not including athletics or in-school learning activities.” LEAs could also choose to fund “classroom support activities, such as academic subject specific programs, adjunct teacher programs, and parent engagement, but not including activities to support smaller class sizes, construction, or to provide compensation or benefits to teachers, school leaders, or other school officials.”
Under the same Local Academic Flexible Grant section of the bill, a second program would be funded with about 13 percent of the funds and would provide “awards to nongovernmental entities to improve academic achievement." Each state educational agency would award grants to public or private organizations, community-based organizations, and business entities for programs for elementary or secondary school students (or both) that will help improve academic achievement.  The Afterschool Alliance is developing a letter providing feedback to the committee.
The draft bill would also end the School Improvement Grants(SIG) program and its four turnaround models that committee Republicans have challenged over the past year. The funds saved by ending SIG would go toward increasing funds for Title I, Part A, for which the draft bill authorizes nearly $16.7 billion in FY 2013. The draft measure maintains separate funding streams for migrant education, neglected and delinquent, English language acquisition, rural education, and Indian education programs, but merges them into Title I and allows states and LEAs to use formula funds for them on other Title I programs.
Majority staff produced materials related to the release of the two draft bills. Draft language and a summary of the Student Success Act are available, as are a summary and draft language of the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act.
January 5, 2012
The Second Session: Afterschool and Federal Policy in 2012
On Jan. 23, the second session of the 112th Congress will begin.  It is unclear to most Washington observers what the upcoming year will look like, but we do know a few things:
  • It is an election year.  Elections this November will determine all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, as well as 33 seats in the U.S. Senate.  A Presidential election is also in the cards this year, making increased partisanship more likely.  Look for an updated election toolkit here on our website this month for ideas on how to raise the importance of afterschool programs to campaigns in your state and district.
  • ESEA remains unfinished business. Among the pending legislation for this year is reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  Historically, it is challenging for Congress to pass large legislation during election years.  However, the House Education and the Workforce Committee could very well mark up an ESEA bill early this year.  In addition to ESEA, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and Workforce Investment Act (WIA) are all theoretically up for reauthorization.  The likelihood of any of these bills, including ESEA, passing both chambers of Congress and being signed into law by the President remains questionable.
  • The budget process will continue to be a process.  While the ink is barely dry on the Continuing Resolution that funds most government agencies through Sept. 30, 2012, the FY2013 budget process will begin anew in February with the President’s proposed budget.  As a result of last summer’s Budget Control Act, sequestration (i.e. spending cuts), will factor into the FY2013 budget picture.
  • Engaged learning is key. The new year has already brought a new round of discussion and debate in Washington policy circles over federal funding for a longer school day at the expense of afterschool.  A lively debate on the Answer Sheet blog on the Washington Post’s website has generated dozens of comments about the necessity of continuing federal 21st CCLC funding for afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs.  A majority of the comments responding to the point and counter point blog posts by the Afterschool Alliance’s Jodi Grant and the National Center for Time and Learning’s Jennifer Davis emphasize the need for continued federal support for afterschool programs to ensure engaged learning opportunities remain for young people.
Beyond a doubt, 2012 will be another year for reaching out to elected officials at the local, state and national levels to emphasize the impact that quality afterschool programs have on young people: engaging and inspiring them and complementing the learning they receive in school.  Budget cuts at all levels have taken a toll on both the availability of programs as well as on the children and families that rely on these programs.  Policy makers need to hear and see the value of before-school, afterschool and summer learning programs, and need to be reminded that these programs are not a luxury but rather are essential to the success of young people in school, but also in life. Contact Congress now
December 19, 2011
State Level 21st CCLC Implications of the FY2012 Appropriations Bill
Last Saturday Congress completed work on the FY2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act when the U.S. Senate approved the measure by a vote of 67 to 32. The legislation includes the Fiscal Year 2012 Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. Based on the FY2012 appropriation for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative of $1,151,673,000, the Afterschool Alliance has calculated the estimated amount of 21st CCLC funding for each state using the appropriate formula. Check your estimated state funding level here.
December 16, 2011
FY2012 Appropriations – the Final Update?
With just hours until the current continuing resolution expires, Congress released an FY2012 omnibus spending bill this morning preventing multiple federal agencies, including the Department of Education, from shutting down. This past Monday it appeared the House and Senate appropriators had all but reached an agreement on an omnibus appropriations bill containing the nine remaining spending bills for FY2012, including the Labor, HHS, Education bill which funds the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative, Americorps program, the Child Care Development Block Grant and several other programs that provide support for afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs. While the expectation was that the agreement would be posted last Monday night, a number of issues cropped up that have prevented a spending bill from moving forward until today.
As part of the negotiations between the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, the Democrat-controlled Senate and the Administration, a .189% across-the-board spending cut was applied to most federal programs, including 21st CCLC. As a result, funding for 21st CCLC for the current fiscal year (which ends Sept. 30, 2012) will be $1,151,673,000–down slightly from last year’s level of $ 1,153,854,000.
The omnibus spending bill also includes report language relating to 21st CCLC that addresses efforts to use these funds for a longer school day, stating that efforts to extend the school day should “align with and complement, rather than replicate, the regular school day by offering a range of activities that capture student interest and support student engagement to promote higher class attendance, reduce risk for retention or dropping out, and include activities that promote good health.” Furthermore, the report language directs the Department of Education to provide guidance and support technical assistance on how to form and maintain strong community-school partnerships, promote continuous quality improvement and ensure that funded programs meet the needs of individual students. The Afterschool Alliance and friends of afterschool helped suggest this language, which also restricts the Department from showing preference or priority for particular models of expanding learning opportunities such as extended day programs.
The table here represents the new FY2012 funding levels for several key programs that support out-of-school time programming, including:
21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative (Education): $1.151 billion; a decrease of about $2 million
Title I (Education): $14.495 billion; an increase of about $30 million
Promise Neighborhoods (Education): $59,887 million; an increase of about $30 million
Corporation for National and Community Service (including AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA programs) $1.05 billion; a  decrease of about $24.7 million
Child Care Development Block Grant (HHS) $2.3 billion; an increase of $60 million
December 13, 2011
Acronym of the Month: FERPA
Early this month, the Department of Education released new guidance on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Community-based organizations that partner with schools and local education agencies (LEAs) to provide valuable afterschool, before-school and summer learning opportunities for children are often challenged by FERPA restrictions that can limit the sharing of student-level data. Data-sharing between schools and community partner organizations can benefit students by targeting support services where they are needed and ensuring all parties are accountable for results. While the Department's new FERPA guidance does not change the purposes for which shared data can be used, it does change who is allowed to share information. The Forum for Youth Investment recently posted a thorough analysis of the new FERPA guidance that will be helpful for organizations that partner with schools to provide services and programs to young people. They conclude that work on this issue is not done, however, they “remain hopeful that the Department of Education will allow data sharing with agencies running programs to improve social, emotional and physical development for young people older than 6, the same way it now does for agencies running programs for children 6 and younger.” To read the complete analysis, see First Look: New FERPA Regulations, Forum for Youth Investment.
December 12, 2011

Two WIA Bills Introduced in the House

Late last week, two bills related to the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) were introduced by Republican members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) introduced H.R. 3610, the Streamlining Workforce Development Programs Act of 2011. The bill aims to consolidate and streamline redundant and ineffective federal workforce development programs to increase accountability, reduce administrative bureaucracies and put Americans back to work. This bill would consolidate 33 of the 47 workforce programs into four funding streams, one of which would be the State Youth Workforce Investment Fund that would serve the nation's disadvantaged youth, with a focus on school completion. A second bill was introduced by Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV). H.R. 3611 would amend WIA to increase employer engagement and improve training opportunities for in-demand occupations. In addition, the bill would mandate that two-thirds of all workforce investment board (WIB) members be employers, and would eliminate representation requirements for WIA partner programs, local educational entities and labor organizations.

These proposals are in contrast to current law, under which WIA includes a formula-funded youth program serving eligible low-income youth, ages 14-21, who face barriers to employment. Service strategies, developed by workforce providers, prepare youth for employment and/or post-secondary education through strong linkages between academic and occupational learning. Local communities provide youth activities and services in partnership with the WIA One-Stop Career Center System and under the direction of local Workforce Investment Boards. A Summer Jobs Initiative is also funded through WIA, which has helped out-of-school-time program providers provide important services to young people. WIA legislation could move through the House Education Committee next calendar year.

December 8, 2011
FY2012 Appropriations Update
Congress continues to work on a "mega-bus" spending bill which will fund the Department of Education and a number of other agencies that are currently operating under a Continuing Resolution set to expire on Dec. 16, 2011.  The funding level for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative is still expected to hold at last year's level of $1.15 billion.  Report language advising the Department of Education on using 21st CCLC funds for a longer school day remains under discussion.  Funding levels for a number of other important funding streams for afterschool remain up in the air, including the Americorp program.  Friends of afterschool can contact their Members of Congress in support of afterschool program funding here.
December 6, 2011
What is Sequestration?
As reported last month, the supercommittee, charged with finding an agreement on how to save at least $1.5 trillion over 10 years, failed to do so by their deadline. As a result, under the Budget Control Act a sequestration process is scheduled to go into effect in January 2013 resulting in spending cuts to both defense and non-defense discretionary funding. For education programs like the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, this could mean a $90 million cut. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities recently released a report summarizing the impact that sequestration could have on federal programs, stating in part:
"For fiscal year 2013, the non-defense cuts would occur through across-the-board, proportional reductions in the new funding provided for each discretionary program in the appropriations bills for fiscal year 2013, which Congress should already have enacted before the January 2013 sequestration order is issued."
November 30, 2011
NCLB Waivers and Afterschool
While Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization continues to be bogged down in Congress, the Obama administration and the Department of Education continued with their plan to offer “greater flexibility” to states in meeting the requirements of No Child Left behind in exchange for what the President called “a strong commitment to core reforms that boost student achievement.”  The waiver plan offers states more flexibility with Title I funding, i.e.specifically allowing the use of Supplemental Educational Services (SES) tutoring dollars for other purposes such afterschool and summer learning.  The waiver also offers states the option to use 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) funds to expand learning during the school day with very little direction or definition of what is meant by expanded learning time.  Of the 11 states that submitted a waiver application by the November deadline, the following states “checked the box” seeking the optional 21st CCLC waiver:  Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Tennessee.  Colorado, Georgia and Minnesota did not check the box. Almost all of the state waiver applications referenced expanded learning opportunities as part of their strategies to turnaround their lowest performing schools.
Regarding Title I funds, Colorado’s waiver application emphasizes that school districts that meet the demand for SES and School Choice Transportation (Choice) by the end of the first semester will be required to use the remaining set-aside funds to provide extended learning opportunities, such as before- or afterschool programs, and summer school. 
The Florida waiver application lists both the Florida After School Network and the Florida Afterschool Alliance as groups included in the community outreach effort that was mandated by the Department of Education as part of the waiver application process.  Additionally, Florida’s application states that the state  is highly committed to providing increased instructional time and practice to all struggling students, going on to clarify that increased learning time should reflect at least 300 hours of additional instructional time for all students.  This criterion could be met with 60 percent of the increased learning time supporting all students (extended day and/or year) and 40 percent being supported through traditional targeted services including before school, afterschool, weekend and summer academies.
Oklahoma’s application uses descriptive, specific language to define expanded learning time as part of their explanation for checking the box regarding flexibility in using 21st CCLC funds:
A Priority School that is currently receiving or is awarded a 21st CCLC grant may submit an amendment to their original grant application to use a limited percentage of their 21st CCLC funds for extended learning time in accordance with the guidance provided by the SEA and based on a comprehensive needs assessment. This amendment must be approved by the SEA. The extended learning time must include school community partnerships, engaged learning, family engagement, prepared staff, intentional programming, student participation and access, and ongoing assessment and improvement.
Full waiver applications from all 11 states can be accessed through the Department of Education’s website here. States seeking flexibility in the first round will be notified by mid-January or earlier. Since the President’s announcement last September, 39 states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico have signaled their intent to seek flexibility from current law. The next deadline for request is in mid-February. States can also make requests later in the spring.
November 22, 2011
Supercommittee, FY2012 Appropriations and ESEA: A Pre-Thanksgiving Wrap-Up
While officially the bipartisan supercommittee has until tomorrow (Nov. 23) to present an agreement on how to save at least $1.5 trillion over 10 years, yesterday its members announced they were unable to reach an agreement.  As a reminder, the Budget Control Act that passed over the summer created the supercommittee, made up of 12 members of the House and Senate, half Democrats and half Republicans.  Without a final agreement, the Act will trigger automatic across-the-board cuts (sequestration) in the amount of $1.2 trillion, to take effect in late January 2013. One half of those cuts will be from defense, and the other half will be from non-defense programs.  However, Social Security, Medicaid, Unemployment Insurance, SSI, SNAP/Food Stamps, child nutrition programs and TANF are exempt from the cuts.  Not exempt from the cuts is federal education spending.  Experts estimate that across-the-board cuts of 7.8 percent will hit most programs, including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative.  Based on the FY2011 21st CCLC appropriation of $1.15 billion, a 7.8 percent cut would mean an estimated reduction of $90 million, however the actual amount may vary.  The Committee for Education Funding (CEF), in a letter sent Oct. 20 to the supercommittee co-chairs, warned that under sequestration, such cuts would include "a $3.54 billion cut to education programs and a $590 million cut to Head Start" in FY2013.  CEF officials wrote that cuts to education in FY2013 would include $1.1 billion from Title I.
Independent of the supercommittee deliberations, Congress has been working on FY2012 spending bills this month.  The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education spending bill is expected to be combined with several other spending bills into a ‘mini-bus’ which would need to pass Congress before the current Continuing Resolution expires in mid-December.  As of now it appears that 21st CCLC will be funded at the FY2011 level of $1.15 billion.
Finally, the latest news on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization process: Senate HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin announced last week that the ESEA bill would likely not make it to the Senate floor until next calendar year.  The House Education and the Workforce Committee continues to work internally on their version of an ESEA reauthorization bill.
November 4, 2011
Update on Super Committee’s Deficit Reduction Plans
After weeks of behind-closed-doors discussions among the dozen members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, the group emerged at a public hearing held this past Tuesday.  Two competing plans were leaked this week, one backed by the Committee’s Democrats and another plan put forward by its Republicans.  In short, the Democratic proposal offered $1.3 trillion in revenue increases, far less than the earlier bipartisan Bowles-Simpson and Gang of Six plans, and Republicans were quick to reject even that much revenue. 

Both plans would reduce the deficit by much more than the minimum $1.2 trillion called for in the Budget Control Act, the deficit reduction law passed in August.  The plan offered by a majority of the Democrats on the Committee would save about $3 trillion over 10 years in addition to the $900 billion in appropriations cuts already scheduled.  The Republican plan would save $2.2 trillion with almost no tax increases, however that would include $640 billion described as new revenues but characterized by others as benefit reductions.  Neither plan appears to have the support of the entire Committee.

The Joint Select Committee must propose a plan to Congress by Nov. 23.  If Congress can vote on it by Dec. 23, debate will be limited, with no filibuster or amendments possible.  Getting to such a vote is seen as a challenge.  Coalitions of advocates including the SAVE for All Campaign have urged Congress to walk away from any deal that hurts low-income and vulnerable people and that does not include substantial revenues and military savings. 
November 3, 2011
Funding for NASA and NSF Education in the Senate CJS Spending Bill 
In addition to the juvenile justice appropriations that passed the Senate on Nov. 1, 2011, funding for NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF) was also included in the legislation.  Both NASA and NSF have education funds that have been successfully utilized by afterschool providers to offer quality STEM afterschool and summer learning programs.  Funding levels were set as follows:

NASA Education

  • The FY 2011 appropriation was $145.5 million
  • The FY 2012 Administration request was $138.4 million and the Senate Appropriations Committee recommended $138.4 million, a decline of $7.1 million or 4.9 percent as compared to the current budget.

In a nod to informal science education, the Committee report states:

Informal Education Grants--A report by the National Academy of Sciences, "Learning Science in Informal Settings," found evidence that nonschool science programs involving exhibits, media projects, emerging learning technologies and other informal education programs increase students' interest in STEM education.  The Committee recommends $7,000,000 for a competitive grant program as authorized by section 616 of Public Law 109-155.
NSF Education and Human Resources
  • The FY 2011 appropriation was $861.0 million
  • The FY 2012 Administration request was $911.2 million and the Senate Appropriations Committee recommends $829.0 million, a decline of $32.0 million or 3.7 percent. 
The Committee calls out its support for informal science education with language identical to that used for the NASA appropriation:
Informal Science Education--The Committee maintains its strong support for NSF's informal science education program.  A report from the National Academy of Sciences, "Learning Science in Informal Settings," found evidence that nonschool science programs involving exhibitions, media projects, emerging learning technologies, and other informal education programs stimulate students and increase their interest in STEM education.  The Committee encourages NSF to increase its support for the development of online accessible repositories of digital media and other materials to assist teachers and students in STEM education.
These funding levels will be reconciled with lower levels in the House of Representatives during Conference Committee to be held this month.
November 1, 2011
Update on Juvenile Justice Funding
This afternoon the U.S. Senate passed H.R. 2112 as amended which, among other things, provides federal funding for juvenile justice programs in FY 2012 at the following levels:
  • Title II at $45 million
  • Title V at $33 million (entirely earmarked for non-JJDPA programs)
  • JABG at $30 million
  • Mentoring at $55 million
  • Violence prevention at $8 million
The bill passed on a vote of 69-30, with 14 Republicans voting yes.  While the funding levels that passed the Senate are significantly below previous funding levels, they remain higher than the House version. The bill now moves to Conference Committee where the House and Senate versions will be reconciled. Friends of afterschool can continue to reach out to Members of the Senate and the House to impact the Conference. Take action on the Spark Action website to tell your Senator to protect vital juvenile justice funding.
October 28, 2011
Juvenile Justice Funding Expected to be Part of Next Tuesday’s Senate Vote on ‘Mini-Bus’
This Tuesday, November 1st, the Senate is expected to vote on one of several ‘mini-bus’ spending bills appropriating funds for the current fiscal year (2012). The bill being voted on this Tuesday will set spending levels for federal juvenile justice programs operated by the Department of Justice, including several youth programs designed to keep young people safe. The proposed spending reductions represent the deepest cuts to federal juvenile justice funding in more than a decade.
According to Act 4 Juvenile Justice, for more than 35 years the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) has provided critical federal funding to states to comply with a set of core requirements designed to protect children from the dangers of adult jails and lockups; keep young people safe; keep children charged with status offenses out of locked custody; and address the disparate treatment of youth of color in the justice system. Among the specific programs are those funded through JJDPA's Title V, the only federal program that provides delinquency prevention funding at the local level to reach youth at risk and help keep them out of the juvenile justice system. Thousands of young people have benefitted from afterschool and other youth programs funded through Title V.
The House and Senate have both proposed juvenile justice cuts that are the largest in more than a decade. Among other consequences, cuts to juvenile justice funding would eliminate support for cost-effective delinquency prevention programs and alternatives to incarceration, which increase public safety and decrease recidivism and public costs. For every $1 spent in prevention and community-based alternatives, taxpayers save up to $8 in criminal justice costs. Take action on the Spark Action website to tell your Senator to protect vital juvenile justice funding.
October 21, 2011 
ESEA Reauthorization and 21st CCLC

While more than a million Americans were celebrating Lights On Afterschool yesterday, the Senate HELP Committee continued its markup of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Late last night the committee passed the bill, sponsored by Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-WY), with all of the committee's Democrats and three Republicans--Sens. Enzi, Mark Kirk and Lamar Alexander--voting for the measure.

The bill originally included changes to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative that would allow funding currently supporting afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs to also fund a comprehensive redesign of the school day. In addition to the Afterschool Alliance, organizations like the YMCA of the USA and the Collaborative to Build After School Systems (CBASS) reached out to Senate HELP Committee members to express concern over this language and the diminished role of community-based organizations as partners in 21st CCLC programs. As a result, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) submitted an amendment that would substitute the Afterschool for America's Children Act into the bill. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) worked with CBASS to offer an additional amendment that made the following changes to the ESEA reauthorization bill:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Clarity of existing language to ensure that either the local education agencies or nonprofit partners can be the lead fiscal agent on 21st CCLC grants.
  4. New language to ensure that effective and innovative approaches to programs can be utilized by grantees. Sen. Whitehouse's amendment passed the Committee.

While it is an improvement over the original ESEA legislation posted at the beginning of the week, concerns remain over the language within the bill that allows 21st CCLC funds to be used for expensive, whole scale school redesign--an initiative that is also funded elsewhere in the bill through School Improvement Grants. More than one thousand parents and friends of afterschool programs contacted their Senators this week to express concern over the proposed changes and in support of the amendments that would strengthen afterschool programs in the ESEA reauthorization bill. Sen. Harkin has stated that his desire is for the amended ESEA reauthorization bill to go to the Senate floor for further debate, amendments and a final vote before the end of the calendar year. The floor debate represents an additional opportunity to amend the bill and for afterschool advocates to voice their opinion on the bill.  


October 20, 2011   

Lights On Afterschool: Advocating for Afterschool

Over 7,500 events celebrating afterschool were held around the country today as part of Lights On Afterschool. In addition to celebrating the value and impact of afterschool programs on young people and their communities, Lights On Afterschool is also an opportunity to reach policy makers. Friends of afterschool including parents and children sent more than 1,000 emails and phone calls to Members of Congress this week. They also signed an online petition in support of afterschool, with more than 9,000 individuals urging that funding for afterschool programs should not be denied or diverted.

Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and SusanCollins (R-ME) led an effort to pass a resolution in the U.S. Senate recognizing afterschool programs. In a news release about the resolution, Sen. Boxer said "Afterschool programs keep our children safe and help them learn. In so many communities, afterschool programs are needed to give students access to physical education, arts, music and so many other enriching activities that are increasingly being cut from the school day." Sen.Collins added: "Afterschool programs can provide a safe and enriching environment for children after the school bell rings. They not only continue to engage young people in academic and physical activities, but they also provide a peace of mind to hard-working parents."

Members of Congress were also present at a number of Lights On Afterschool events including an event at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint (Mich.) that honored Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI) for his leadership in supporting afterschool programs. The Congressman was joined at the event by Rep. John Dingell (D-MI). At a Lights On Afterschool rally in Gettysburg, Penn., Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA) spoke to a packed crowd about the value of keeping the lights on afterschool. In Chicago, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan celebrated afterschool programs at the Morton School of Excellence with the YMCA and Chicago Public School officials.

A new tool for advocates was also released yesterday. In conjunction with jcpenny, the 2011 State-by-State Afterschool Progress Reports and Consumer Guides were released online and at a Lights On Afterschool event in Jacksonville, Fla. The progress reports provide details on the efforts of each state to provide access to afterschool programs as well as challenges to be addressed.


October 18, 2011   

The Senate HELP Committee will begin marking up an ESEA reauthorization bill tomorrow at 10 a.m.  The markup is expected to be webcast and could take more than one day to complete.  Section 4105 of the bill being considered makes changes to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers  (21st CCLC) program, including language that would drastically alter funding for the initiative by allowing these funds to be diverted to support whole scale school reform.  Several amendments will be offered during the committee markup that would strengthen school-community partnerships that help afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs succeed, including one by Sen. Lisa Murkowskithat would replace the bill's language with the Afterschool for America’s Children Act.  Take action to support these amendments here.



October 17, 2011

Senate Education Committee Scheduled to Tackle ESEA Reauthorization this Week
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is expected to mark up an Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization bill this Wednesday, Oct. 19.  A draft of the bill, along with a Manager’s Amendment released by Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA), have been posted to the  Committee's website. The Afterschool Alliance sent a letter reflecting several key concerns over the bill's proposed changes to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative. It is critical that changes to 21st CCLC strengthen school-community partnerships and promote engaged learning that complements rather than replicates the school day.
Under current law, working families and communities have come to depend on 21st CCLC (Sec. 4105 in the proposed legislation) to provide expanded learning activities before school, after school and during the summer.  21st CCLC provides afterschool programming to more than 1 million students at more than 11,000 sites.  Quality programs engage young people in their education, reinforce the learning that takes place during the school day and keep children safe.  They leverage partnerships to help provide a host of resources to children based on community needs, including: educational enrichment; hot suppers; access to medical, dental and mental health professionals; partnerships with museums and science centers; tutoring and mentoring; opportunities for physical activity; and internships and jobs.  A large and constantly growing body of research evaluating 21st CCLCs confirms that quality afterschool programs are a cost-effective way to increase student success. 
Friends of afterschool should take action by emailing their Members of Congress to express their support for quality afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs. 

        October 10, 2011
  STEM Bill Introduced as Part of ESEA

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has introduced the Preparing Students for Success in the Global Economy Act of 2011 (S. 1675) as part of the base ESEA reauthorization bill.  The STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education bill is co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Mark Begich (AK), Robert Casey (PA), Al Franken (MN) and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY).  The bill, which combines many of the STEM bills that have been introduced this session, focuses primarily on improving student academic achievement in the STEM fields by improving instruction and student access to courses on these subjects.  Non-profits and community-based organizations are eligible to be partners along with science centers and museums.  Furthermore, out-of-school activities are explicitly included as an allowable use of funds.  Learn more about the bill and take action here.  

October 7, 2011
Appropriations Bill Threatens AmeriCorps Funding
Funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is threatened under the draft House Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) 2012 appropriations bill introduced Sept. 29, 2011. The proposed legislation would fund CNCS at $280 million dollars—just enough to fund the national senior volunteer program, Senior Corps, and provide for the “orderly elimination” of other CNCS programs, including AmeriCorps and VISTA. The $280 million dollars appropriated is nearly $800 million below its current funding and $1 billion below President Obama’s 2012 funding request The House LHHS funding bill stands in stark contrast to the FY2012 spending bill passed in the Senate Appropriations Committee last month, which would sustain FY2012 CNCS funds at $1.09 billion.. It is unlikely that this bill will be debated by the full Senate. Many afterschool programs rely on AmeriCorps, VISTA and Senior Corps volunteers to help run their programs effectively. Additionally, there are many organizations, including the Afterschool Alliance, that work with VISTA members to help expand the reach of afterschool programs and ensure their sustainability. The Afterschool Alliance has joined many other organizations in signing onto a letter demanding that the national service programs be spared from funding cuts. You can also show your support for AmeriCorps and other national service programs by contacting your Member of Congress and asking them to keep the national service programs funded. Be sure to let them know how the CNCS programs have helped support your afterschool program.  
October 5, 2011
Department of Education Includes 21st CCLC Waiver in FAQs
The Department of Education has posted a 50-page
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document to their ESEA flexibility website to provide clarification on the waiver process.  The FAQ includes two questions on the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) optional flexibility waiver:
1. What does this flexibility include with respect to expanded learning time?
Under this flexibility, an SEA (state education agency) may request flexibility to permit its LEAs (local education agencies) to use funds for community learning centers under the 21st CCLC program to support activities that provide high-quality expanded learning time during the school day in addition to activities during non-school hours or periods when school is not in session (i.e., before and after school or during summer recess). 
2. What does high-quality expanded learning time look like?
Supporting activities to provide high-quality expanded learning time might include:
·         Adding significantly more time by expanding the school day, school week, or school year to increase learning time for all students;
·         Using the additional time to support a well-rounded education that includes time for academics and enrichment activities;
·         Providing additional time for teacher collaboration and common planning; and
·         Partnering with one or more outside organizations, such as a nonprofit organization, with demonstrated experience in improving student achievement.
The limited guidance that is offered makes it clear that community partnerships are an optional element of expanded learning time under the department's definition, however the body of research on expanded learning opportunities suggests that partnerships between schools and community-based organizations are critical to program success.  Additionally, the guidance opens up the possibility of supporting teacher professional development and/or merely adding time to existing school day classes without clear direction on how such time should be used.  The lack of more specific guidance suggests that states opting to accept the 21st CCLC optional flexibility waiver can develop their own parameters around expanded learning time utilizing evidence-based practices such as strong school-community partnerships, engaged hands-on learning that enhances and supplements but does not replicate the school day, and opportunities to involve parents.


October 4, 2011
FY2012 Appropriations Update
As of this week, the 2012 federal fiscal year has officially begun.  Federal spending for FY2012 has been temporarily extended until Nov. 18, 2011, and work continues in both the House and the Senate to reach