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Every Child Achieves Act passes Senate HELP Committee, includes 21st CCLC afterschool program

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Every Child Achieves Act passes Senate HELP Committee, includes 21st CCLC afterschool program

The Senate HELP Committee concluded its three day mark-up of the bipartisan Every Childs Achieves Act of 2015 last week, unanimously passing the new ESEA reauthorization bill and sending it to the Senate floor for consideration later this spring or in early summer. The bill now includes Sen. Murkowski’s (R-AK) bipartisan 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) amendment that passed by unanimous consent earlier last week—a significant step towards ensuring that 1.6 million young people will remain in the afterschool and summer learning programs they currently attend.

The 21st CCLC amendment that was included in the Every Child Achieves Act is based largely on the bipartisan Afterschool for America’s Children Act (S. 308) introduced by Sens. Murkowski and Boxer (D-CA) that is the product of five years of discussion with afterschool providers, parents, young people, national youth development groups, state education agencies, and other stakeholders. The amendment strengthens the 21st CCLC initiative by emphasizing better data sharing between schools and community based organizations; updating allowable uses to include STEM, physical activity, nutrition education, financial literacy, workforce development programs and more; expands program performance measures; adds a role for external intermediary organizations; and highlights professional development for program staff.

The inclusion of 21st CCLC is a true win for young people, parents and communities, and is a result of the strong bipartisan support of Sens. Murkowski, Murray (D-WA), Franken (D-MN), Sanders (I-VT), Cassidy (R-LA), Collins (R-ME), Baldwin (D-WI), Boxer , Warren (D-MA) and others, as well as the outpouring of  support from so many stakeholders – including 17,400 individuals who signed a petition supporting 21st CCLC; 560+ local, state and national groups who signed a letter of support; and more than 5,000 emails that were sent to Senate and House offices since January when draft legislation released by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee first proposed to eliminate 21st CCLC.

The amendment also includes a language that would allow 21st CCLC funds to be used for specific ‘afterschool-like’ activities as part of expanded learning programs in cases where at least 300 hours are added during the year; schools work with community partners; and activities do not supplant existing programs. Just as 21st CCLC can be used for the afterschool components of a community school – something we have long supported and praised – under this language 21st CCLC funds will also be able to be used for  afterschool like components of an expanded learning program. This increases the models of engagement and enrichment opportunities that young people can access.

Also included in the ESEA bill was Sen. Franken’s amendment that would allow school districts to fund STEM education during school or in afterschool programs.

In previous versions of ESEA the only funding for STEM came through the Math and Science Partnerships which was designed to be used for school day teacher professional development.  This amendment is broad and purposely supports partnerships from all stakeholders in STEM (schools, universities, businesses and non-profits) to allow use to be flexible and keep up with modern demand.  One of the potential uses for funds from the program would be afterschool STEM programs and partnerships between science-rich institutions and schools.  

Sen. Baldwin’s Physical Education Program amendment also passed and is now included in the bill – allowing physical education programs coordinated by schools or community partners, during or outside of the school day.  

Next steps in the ESEA process include Senate floor consideration, possibly in May or June of this year.  Also we cannot forget that a final vote by the full House of Representatives on their ESEA reauthorization bill, the Student Success Act (HR 5), is needed. Once each chamber passes its own measure, the House and Senate must then conference their bills and pass the conferenced version, before the the bill can go to the President’s desk for his signature. So while there are many steps to go to get to the finish line, a major hurdle was completed by today’s action in the Senate HELP Committee.

Supporters of afterschool programs can thank Senate HELP Committee members for their support of 21st CCLC and call on House and Senate members to support 21st CCLC within ESEA reauthorization in the coming months. 

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Federal funding battle triggers government shutdown

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Trump administration proposes eliminating afterschool

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BY: Jillian Luchner      08/02/18

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Afterschool awesomeness prevails

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BY: Jodi Grant      03/23/18

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BY: Erik Peterson      05/24/17

Trump doubles down: $0 for afterschool

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      05/23/17

Afterschool funding preserved in proposed FY2017 spending bill, still under attack for 2018

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BY: Erik Peterson      05/01/17