Trump again calls for elimination of 21st Century funding

For the third year in a row, President Trump's FY 2021 budget calls for the elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program – the only dedicated source of federal funding for afterschool and summer learning programs.

The full budget represents the president’s vision for how Congress should spend federal funds for the fiscal year that begins October 1, 2019 (FY21) and, for the third 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. Elimination 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. As recently as 2015, Congress reauthorized the Community Learning Centers initiative in an overwhelmingly, bipartisan vote as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In 2018, bipartisan congressional support was evident when the FY19 Defense, Education, Labor, HHS spending bill included a $10 million increase to Community Learning Centers funding to meet the large need for these programs from working parents, students and communities across the country.

The research is clear: Afterschool works

The Trump administration’s budget proposal attempts to justify eliminating Community Learning Centers by claiming that doing so would reduce waste; it reiterates the erroneous claim that these programs lack strong evidence of their effectiveness, which was debunked last year. In fact, more than a decade of data and evaluations provide compelling evidence that Community Learning Centers afterschool programs yield positive outcomes for participating children in academics, behavior, school day attendance, and more.

Just last week, the Wallace Foundation released yet another independent study. Afterschool Programs: A Review of Evidence Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, found more than 60 afterschool program models that meet the top three most rigorous evidence standards of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. Afterschool programs meeting the evidence standards in this comprehensive research review included 21st Century Community Learning Centers programs serving students from elementary school through high school, and across the country in places like Fresno, St. Louis, and Philadelphia.

While the effectiveness of Community Learning Centers funding is clear, 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!

The administration continues to rely on outdated, hand-selected data that ignores more than a decade of evidence from researchers showing that afterschool works. 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.

The Department of Education’s most recent report finds that half of the students regularly participating in Community Learning Centers programs improved their math and reading grades, more than two-thirds improved their homework and class participation, and 6 in 10 improved their classroom behavior. One out of four elementary school students moved from “not proficient” to “proficient” or better in reading test scores and 1 in 5 middle and high school students moved from “not proficient” to “proficient” or better in math. Considering that Community Learning Centers programs work with some of the most disadvantaged children and youth, many of whom would otherwise be unsupervised after school, we should be celebrating these victories.

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 $62 billion for the Department of Education (including cancellations of Pell Grant unobligated balances) -- an $8.5 billion or 12 percent decrease from the FY2019 enacted level. Despite the huge cuts, there are a few areas where the president proposed to increased funding, such as $1 billion in additional one-time funding for child care supports, and a $50 billion-over-ten-years initiative for an education tax credit proposal for state authorized scholarship granting organizations (SGOs) which could fund scholarships, resources and activities (listed to include afterschool tutoring). We will provide more analysis on these new proposals as the details become apparent.

However, the president’s proposal would reduce or even eliminate many critical supports for children and families including:

  • Full Service Community Schools ($17.5 million), Statewide family engagement centers ($10 million), Promise Neighborhoods ($78 million) – All eliminated
  • Title II: Funding for educator professional development ($2.1 billion) proposed for elimination
  • Title IV Part A Student Support Academic Enrichment Grants: This grant will be eliminated, down from $1.2 billion in 2019.
  • Within the Higher Education space, the proposal would decrease federal work-study to less than half of its current funding, eliminate the Title II Educator Training funding, decrease funding for Child Care Access Means Parents in Schools from $50 million to $15 million, and consolidate TRIO and GEAR UP programs while cutting funding by a third.

Sustained Funding

  • Title I: The budget allocates $15.9 billion for Title I under ESSA, which is similar to last year’s allocation
  • Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG): The proposal maintains funding for the Child Care and Development Block grant and includes a proposal for a $1 billion one-time mandatory investment for States to build the supply of care and stimulate employer investment in child care
  • Perkins/Career Technical Education: Sustains $1.3 billion in funding proposed for CTE State Grants. The budget proposes a bump for CTE National Programs Funds from $7.4 million to $20 million, with a focus on STEM fields, particularly computer science
  • School Safety and National Activities under ESSA saw an increase from $130 million to $300 million, and Charter Schools Grants would be increased by $60 million
  • STEM and Computer Science: The budget plans to commit a minimum of $200 million each year to STEM and computer science skills for students, with a focus on girls and underrepresented minorities.
  • Other: We are working to read through the materials as they are released and will update this blog with information about the Corporation for National and Community Service, Youth Mentoring, NASA, and National Science Foundation Funds and other areas important to the field.

Next steps

The president’s budget request goes to Congress, where budget and appropriations deliberations for FY2020 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 this interactive 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! Recent op-eds have made the case against proposed cuts to afterschool funding, including a piece last week in The Hill by Mary Graham, president of United Ways of Tennessee and lead staff, TN Afterschool Network; and a piece last December by Deborah Vandell, founding dean of the School of Education at the University of California-Irvine describing the latest research on afterschool program effectiveness.

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 2020 and for years to come.

You can take action right now to let your representatives know that afterschool and summer learning programs are invaluable to your community. For more information, go here.