This is a story about my job that isn’t technology or language. This is a story about about the opposite of global. This is a story about my job as the coordinator of our school’s 21st Century Community Learning Center after school program.
You’ve probably never heard of 21st CCLC. It’s a federal grant program that provides funds to run after school programs across the nation. In my county (San Bernardino), we are the only high school that currently has a 21st CCLC. We run a program from 2:00-5:00pm everyday (12:30-3:30 on Wednesdays) and we serve over 1600 students a year. In the first year of our grant we saw a school wide drop in Ds and Fs that was astounding. There are students in our program on Fridays at 5:00pm on the day before vacation because they don’t want to go home. As part of our program we have tutoring, enrichment and sports- including an official CrossFit affiliate gym. On any day there are between 5 and 12 activities for students to choose. For seven years I have helped develop programs and activities that have made a profound difference in students’ lives in my town. For seven years we have done some amazing things for kids.
If you’ve heard of 21st CCLC, it’s probably because in March President Trump released his budget proposal and 21CCLC funding is “zeroed-out,” or in other words completely eliminated. Mick Mulvaney said this is because there is no evidence that after school programs work. His statements regarding after school programs showed a complete lack of understanding of what we do.
The week after the proposal came out, the California Department of Education Expanded Learning Division came to our school to film our program to use in its new training videos about the California After School Quality Standards. It was heartbreaking to watch students talk about what the program means to them and the impact it has had on their lives. Their experiences are typical of all of the students who have gone through our program over the years. I have never cried talking about my students or my work, but I did fight back tears watching them speak and had to leave the room as these three articulate young women shared how our after school program impacted their lives.
In April I spent three days at an after school conference where we talked about what can happen, what will happen and what we can do. Barbara Boxer, our former state senator and writer of the original bill that funded 21st CCLC spoke. Yesterday President Trump released a full budget proposal, but there were no changes for 21stCCLC funding or lack thereof.
We’re lucky in California because Arnold Schwarzenegger is a champion of after school and when he was governor he worked to pass Prop 49, the After School Education and Safety Act (ASES) that provides separate after school funding for elementary schools. Most states have not had a champion like this. If 21CCLC funding is cut, nearly 2 million students and parents could lose services that have a profound impact on our children.
This is a story about how I unintentionally ended up becoming an after school provider and how I unequivocally believe in its significance and role in American education.
If you would like more information about after school programs and how they benefit our children, please visit AfterschoolAlliance.org.