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The Afterschool Alliance has made understanding policy jargon much easier! Check out their blog explaining what you need to know as we enter a busy legislative time.

Making Sense of Afterschool Policy Jargon

By Robert Abare


“ESEA,” “ESSA,” and “21st CCLC” may look like spoonfuls of alphabet soup to some, but if you’ve been following the latest legislative developments in afterschool policy on the Afterschool Snack blog, then you know these terms appear quite often. As we enter a busy time of legislative action on education-related issues, we felt it would be helpful for our readers to freshen up their understanding of essential policy lexicon.


You can use the following “dictionary” to make sure our future policy updates don’t go misunderstood! You can also explore afterschool and summer learning policy issues in greater detail on our Afterschool Policy page.


21st CCLC – The 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative. This is the only federal funding source dedicated exclusively to afterschool programs. Each state receives 21stCCLC funding based on its share of Title I funding for low-income or disadvantaged students. 21st CCLC was included in the most recent measure to reauthorize ESEA, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on December 2, 2015.


Appropriations – The process by which Congress allocates funding for programs and initiatives that have been signed into law, which is accomplished by regularly passing appropriations bills. The main bodies responsible for this process are the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations and the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, each of which are broken into several subcommittees that deal with specific areas, like “Homeland Security” or “Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.”


Conference committee – This is a committee of Congress appointed by both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to settle differences between different versions of the same bill. The ESEA compromise legislation produced by the House and Senate conference committeehas already been voted on and passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, and now awaits a vote in the Senate and the signature of President Obama to become law.


ESEAThe Elementary and Secondary Education Act. This sweeping education legislation was originally signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 as part of his “War on Poverty.” The law, which was reauthorized by Congress in 2001 and renamed No Child Left Behind by President George W. Bush, emphasized equal access to education and established accountability standards. Title I, the federal government’s flagship aid program for disadvantaged students, is included in this law.


ESSA – The Every Student Succeeds Act. This is the newest proposed reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which has already been passed by The U.S. House of Representatives. The bill provides more flexibility at the local level and reduces emphasis on test-taking to measure success. The bill passed by the House also includes the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative as an independent funding stream, which will continue to support afterschool programs across the country. Jodi Grant, Executive Director of the Afterschool Alliance,released this statement on ESSA.


NCLB – The No Child Left Behind Act. This law is Congress’ 2001 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Initially proposed by President George W. Bush with bipartisan support, NCLB emphasized setting measureable standards and test taking as a means to monitor and improve education outcomes.


Omnibus bill – In terms of appropriations, an omnibus bill packages many smaller regular appropriations bills into one expansive, single bill that can only be passed by one vote in each house of Congress. Omnibus bills are used when Congress cannot pass regular appropriations bills in a timely manner due to political roadblocks, and are a means to gather bipartisan support for appropriation legislation by combining many funding streams (which may attract individual support or opposition from legislators) into one bill.


Reauthorization – This is the process by which Congress prescribes changes, additions, and reductions to existing laws to ensure they stay up-to-date in addressing current issues. Typically this process occurs every five years, but political obstacles may lead to delays.