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Trump administration proposes eliminating afterschool, again

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Trump administration proposes eliminating afterschool, again

On a rainy Monday in Washington, the Trump administration released its fiscal year 2021 full budget proposal. The full budget represents the president’s vision for how Congress should spend federal funds for the fiscal year that begins October 1, 2020 (FY 2021) and, for the fourth year in a row, proposes to eliminate the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, which funds local afterschool and summer learning programs in all 50 states and the U.S. territories. Loss of these funds for local programs would devastate the 1.7 million children and families who stand to lose access to afterschool as a result.

The budget proposal is a stark contrast to the strong bipartisan support for afterschool displayed in Congress. This past December both the House and Senate passed an FY 2020 spending bill which renamed the program as the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers and included a $28 million increase in funding, meaning an additional 28,000 students will gain access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs.

This time around, the administration has a new approach in mind for eliminating 21st CCLC. The budget characterizes the zeroing out of 21st CCLC funding as consolidation of 21st CCLC with nearly 30 other education programs into a new Elementary and Secondary Education for the Disadvantaged (ESED) Block Grant, which would result in the elimination of all targeted afterschool and summer learning funding. Overall the proposed budget drastically lowers elementary and secondary education funding by almost $5 billion.

The research is clear: Afterschool works

In media reports regarding the Trump administration’s budget proposal, they continue to justify their erroneous claim that afterschool programs lack strong evidence of effectiveness—a claim which has been debunked for the past four years. More than a decade of data and evaluations provide compelling evidence that Community Learning Centers afterschool programs yield positive outcomes for participating children in academicsbehavior, school day attendance, and more

In fact, the U.S. Department of Education’s most recent evaluation of 21st CCLC published last fall, “Overview of the 21st CCLC Annual Performance Data:2017-2018,” found that “The performance data indicate that this broad-ranging program touches students’ lives in ways that will have far-reaching, positive impact.” And went on to conclude:

“Over the past year this program has resulted in over 2 million low-income students and family members having a safe place to receive academic enrichment. The students who participate in the 21st CCLC program are among the most at risk. The performance on the GPRA [Government Performance and Results Act] measures indicate that many participants are showing improved behavior and homework completion, student grades, and mathematics or reading/language arts assessment results.”

During the hours between when the last school bell rings and before parents come home from work, 1 in 5 students are alone and unsupervised. According to an October 2019 report by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a national organization of more than 5,000 law enforcement leaders, these hours are the peak time for juvenile crime. However, these are also the hours that are filled with potential; when afterschool programs are helping kids get excited about learning, attend school more often, get better grades, and build foundational skills, like communication, teamwork, and problem solving. Nationwide, 9 in 10 adults say afterschool programs are important to their community—and more than 19 million students are waiting to get into programs. 

The effectiveness of Community Learning Centers funding is clear, and the impact of program elimination is clearly devastating, with thousands of students from pre-K to 12th grade in all 50 states at risk of losing access to the programs they rely on. It’s time the administration gets the message: great results for children and families is not a waste! Furthermore, with federal funding supporting programs that serve less than 2 million students, and the parents of more than 19 million students wanting access to afterschool programs, there is a need for additional support to programs, not less.

Who will be hurt?

In addition to eliminating Community Learning Centers, the president’s full budget proposal would slash funding for dozens of programs that are vital for children and families. Overall, the president’s budget requests $66.6 billion for the Department of Education—a $5.6 billion or 7.8 percent decrease from the FY2020 enacted level. Despite the huge cuts there are a few areas where the president proposed to increase funding, including a substantial increase for Career and Technical Education of nearly $900 million to strengthen America’s workforce by providing access to high-quality vocational programs in every high school. The Budget also provides increased funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and programs that serve disadvantaged populations.

However, the president’s proposal would reduce or even eliminate many critical supports for children and families. The nearly 30 programs like 21st CCLC that are consolidated under the new Elementary and Secondary Education for the Disadvantaged (ESED) Block Grant are disproportionately impacted by the budget proposal. Consolidating funding into one block grant would result in the elimination of many programs that support students and families in and out of school including 21st CCLC, Full Service Community Schools, Statewide Family Engagement Centers, School Safety National Activities, Title II funding for educator professional development, and Title IV Part A Student Support Academic Enrichment Grants. The Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees AmeriCorps and VISTA, is also eliminated under the proposal.

Next steps

The president’s budget request goes to Congress, where budget and appropriations deliberations for FY2021 will begin. This spring Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is expected to testify in support of the president’s education budget before the House and Senate Labor, Education, HHS Appropriations Subcommittees. In the meantime, supporters of afterschool from across the nation and political spectrum will be making the case that #AfterschoolWorks

What could the elimination of federal afterschool funding mean for families nationwide? Check the budget map to see how many thousands of children are currently served by Community Learning Centers in your state—and would be left without an afterschool program if the president’s budget proposal is enacted.

What can afterschool supporters do?

The response from the afterschool field and the public to the proposed elimination of Community Learning Centers last year was loud and swift. Afterschool advocates reached out with almost 40,000 calls and emails to Congress in support of Community Learning Centers.

We can do it again! To make sure our allies in Congress stand strong for afterschool funding, we need to continue to tell them loud and clear: Americans support afterschool and summer learning programs! Add your voice and take action now. Send a clear message of support for afterschool funding for FY 2021 and for years to come.

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