By Katie Landes, Director of GSAN
Congress is back at it! After launching the ESEA reauthorization process a few weeks ago in the U.S. Senate, Representative Kline (R-MN) introduced his draft ESEA reauthorization bill in the House this week.
Representative Kline’s proposed “Student Success Act” is similar to Senator Alexander’s draft “Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015” in many respects and focuses on giving more control over federal education dollars to local and state education agencies. The most notable similarity in the proposed bill is the consolidation of more than 65 programs, including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative (21st CCLC), into a Local Academic Flexible Grant designed to help schools support students.
Again, GSAN is most concerned about the elimination of the designated funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC). Currently, 21st CCLC is the only federal program dedicated to providing young people with quality enrichment, academic programming and a wide range of student support during the hours when school is out, including afterschool, weekends, holidays and over the summer. Over 35,000 young people in Georgia – and 1.5 million nationally – benefit from these programs each year. For more details on how this would affect afterschool, students, and families, check out our last post.
Neither of these ESE drafts are set in stone, but things are moving very quickly (so quickly in fact that Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) issued a statement questioning the rushed timeline and direction of the bill, and announcing a forum to discuss ESEA this week –– we’ll keep you posted on that), with the House Education and Workforce Committee planning to mark up the draft as early as next week, and a possible floor vote in the House by the. end of February.
All that said, it is more important now that you make your voice heard on this issue. Given the proposed timeline, it is critical that members of Congress see a strong outpour of support from afterschool advocates across the country. As before, friends of afterschool and summer learning programs are encouraged to reach out to your Congressmen to explain the value and importance of maintaining separate federal funding for programs that support young people when school is out. Given the proposed timeline, it is important that members of Congress see a strong showing of support from afterschool advocates across the country!
Georgia is happy to have Representatives Buddy Carter and Rick Allen on the House Education and Workforce committee and as part of the leadership for reauthorizing ESEA. If you live in their districts, Representatives Carter and Allen especially need to hear your voice! We encourage you to share your stories and personal experiences to help illustrate the importance of these out-of-school programs for enhancing learning, keeping young people safe and helping working families. A fact sheet created by the Afterschool Alliance and action alert can be accessed to help send the message to Congress that afterschool is not an extra, but instead essential to the success of children in school and in life.