President Trump’s recent budget proposal calls for a $9.2 billion (or 14 percent) cut to the Education Department. Though his plans reinvest some funds in charter schools, it will come at the expense of $1.2 billion worth of after-school and summer programs. For parents, this means a lot more than extra playdates.
The proposed budget would scrap the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which provides assistance with academics as well as health and nutrition education during non-school hours. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney claimed that there was no evidence that such programs actually accomplish anything, despite the fact that the government’s own data says otherwise.
The U.S. Department Of Education report on the 2013-14 school year (the most recent figures available) found that the centers were the latchkey to success. They helped half of students improve their in-class participation and homework completion. Plus, more than a third of enrolled students upped their performance in math and English. After-school nutrition programs, meanwhile, curbed hunger among children, which research links to lower grades, higher absenteeism, and an inability to focus.
What’s more, they provide kids with working parents a safe place to go. Research shows that the hours between 3 and 6 pm are when kids are most likely drink, experiment with drugs, or become the victims of crime. Studies also show that afterschool programs lead to better grades and fewer behavioral problems.
While it’s unlikely Trump’s budget will get approved by Congress, Mulvaney’s ignorance on the matter isn’t great news either way. Because without such programs in place, families will suffer.