President Trump’s budget quickly encountered opposition Thursday from education advocates over the proposed elimination of an after-school program, despite the long track record of the more than $1 billion spent annually on a program known to not affect academic outcomes.
The budget zeroed out funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLCs) program that supports before- and after-school programs in the blueprint that would boost military spending and slash funds for domestic agencies, including a 13 percent reduction for the Department of Education.
The administration targeted the CCLC program, which received $1.2 billion for the 2017 budget year, because the “programs lacks strong evidence of meeting its objectives, such as improving student achievement,” according to budget documents.
The cut immediately became a flashpoint.
The advocacy group Afterschool Alliance called the cuts “a betrayal of the millions of students and parents who depend on afters-school and summer learning programs.”
“This proposal would devastate working families. It is painfully short-sighted and makes a mockery of the president’s promise to make our country safer and to support inner cities and rural communities alike,” said Jodi Grant, executive director of the nonprofit organization.
The program has been targeted by budget hawks for decades.
A series of studies conducted by the Department of Education in 2003 found that students in the program were no more likely to have improved academic outcomes. However, the study did find that students in the program were “more likely to engage in some negative behaviors,” according to the 2005 study.
As the budget carved out after-school programs and other items the administration identified as wasteful spending, the document also shifted priorities within the Education Department.
One of the most dramatic shift was in school choice programs.
The budget would increased speeding on public and private school choice programs $1.4 billion over 2017 levels, ramping up to a $20 billion federal expenditure and an estimated $100 billion including matching state and local funds.
The additional spending in 2018 would include a $168 million increase for charter schools and $250 million for a new private school choice program. Another $1 billion increase for Title I assistance for low-income families would encourage school districts to adopt a system of student-based budgeting and open enrollment that enables federal, state and local funding to follow students to the public school of their choice.
Copyright © 2017 The Washington Times, LLC.