Letter to State Affiliates

TO: Board of Directors, Affiliate Presidents and Section and Division Chairs
FROM: Sue Williams, Ph.D.
AAFCS Gladys Branegan Chalkley Public Policy Scholar
DATE: February 28, 2000
SUBJ: 21st Century Community Learning Centers

Attached is a letter written by AAFCS president Carol L. Anderson that outlines the Association's perspective and potential for involvement in 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC). This letter will be read into the Congressional Record as part of the testimony presented during a House Hearing on the centers conducted February 10, 2000. The letter was sent to Representative Michael Castle (R-DE) who chaired the hearing. Copies were also sent to Representatives Kildee (D-MI), ranking member of the Early Childhood, Youth and Families Subcommittee, Goodling (R-PA), chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee, as well as Clay (D-MO) ranking member of that committee. In addition a copy of the letter is being sent to Senator Jim Jeffords (R-VT), author of the original legislation.

We want to provide background information regarding 21st CCLC to set the context for Carol's letter. Further, we encourage you to contact your Congressional delegation and provide more localized information in support of this concept. A Public Policy Alert is forthcoming to provide additional information.

Authorized under Title X, Part I, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program provides grants to public schools to open their facilities during out-of-school hours for a broad array of community activities. However, the focus of this program, to date has been concentrated on expanding academic learning opportunities for children in after-school programs. Proposals for reauthorization include a more community-focused approach, which would include a wide range of educational opportunities for all citizens. Current proposals strongly advocate a meaningful role for community based organizations working with schools to provide a wide range of high quality after-school learning experiences for children of all ages.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is scheduled for reauthorization this year. Mark-up of the bill will be March 1, 2000. The Clinton Administration and many members of Congress, view the program as a highly successful school-based, after school-program that should be expanded as it is currently operated.

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program is receiving bi-partisan Congressional support. Generally there seems to be agreement to increase funding, to target audiences and communities with greatest need, and to facilitate community partnerships which blend the expertise of two or more organizations to provide innovative, high quality, experience based, educational programs. As FCS professionals we have the background and expertise to actively participate in such community-based educational partnerships. We encourage you to review Carol Anderson's letter and take an active role as an AAFCS leader to inform members about this important legislation and encourage them to contact members of their Congressional delegation in support of this community-based educational effort.