Last week, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Richard Burr (R-NC) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced five bills to
reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that included the “Empowering Local Educational Decision Making Act.” The bill eliminates the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program that provides dedicated funding for critical after-school and summer learning programs.
Although my co-author, Lucy N. Friedman of The After-School
Corporation, and I believe there is a pressing need to reauthorize ESEA, this bill takes us in the wrong direction. While states are raising standards and asking more of students in order to help them graduate high school and college career-ready, this bill would decrease the support students need to meet that goal, and it should be soundly
Even at current funding levels, 21st CCLC falls short of meeting the need. Over 18 million parents say they would enroll their child in an
after school program if one were available to them. In addition,
approximately 1.3 million students drop out of our nation’s high schools every year, leaving three of every ten freshmen without a high school degree four years later. We need to engage and sustain more young people through high school and post-secondary success by giving them more time and more ways to learn — not pull the rug out from under them.