The President’s Budget Proposal and AfterSchool

About two weeks ago, the Office of Management and Budget released “America First A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.”  It is a 62 page document that outlines the administration’s priorities for the upcoming budget process.  It is not law yet, but it will guide legislators in the upcoming budget process.

Normally, as afterschool professionals, we might be too busy with our work and every day living to take much notice of such a document.  I’ve been in this field for many years, and not once have I ever been motivated to actually read a federal budget proposal.  This year is different.  This year it is personal.  This year there is a single paragraph at the bottom of page 17 that requires my attention:

It’s just one bullet point.  It doesn’t directly affect programs that operate without 21st Century funds.  I’m not personally closely associated with anyone who will be directly impacted.  My individual influence on legislators is insignificant.  Why does this require  my attention?  It requires my attention, our attention, because of the last sentence. The one that says afterschool programs don’t contribute to improving student achievement.

On this subject, I believe that Mr. Mulvaney, the President, and others who are responsible for this document don’t have any clue what they are talking about. They obviously are unaware of how afterschool supports student’s success in school.  They are unaware of improved student attendance, improved health, safety and nutrition, the reduction of risky behaviors, improved social-emotional skills, the opportunities for expanded learning, development of college and career skills, the support for working families, or any of the dozens of other proven benefits of attending high quality out-of-school programs.

My individual influence on the process may feel insignificant, but as group we have some power.  For this reason, MdAA and other afterschool organizations from across the country will be signing on to a letter sponsored by the AfterSchool Alliance to inform the President and the Office of Management and Budget of the evidence they seem to have missed.

I encourage you to spend some time on the AfterSchool Alliance website. There they have collected all of the facts and figures, and converted them into powerful graphic documents you can use when talking with supporters and legislators on this topic. Information specifically about 21st Century Learning Centers can be found here:

http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/policy21stcclc.cfm?mc_cid=6d74bda7f4&mc_eid=a2bd7263a2

Take some time to explore, investigate, and make use of this wealth of information effectively.

The National AfterSchool Convention got under way just a few days after the budget proposal was released, and the paragraph referenced above was the topic of many conversations. The words weighed heavily on the hearts of all in attendance.  What we do is of incredible importance to parents who wouldn’t otherwise be able to go to work, to children and youth who would otherwise spend their afterschool hours alone without structure, guidance or enrichment, and to communities that are stronger because of what we do.  The bottom line is that AfterSchool matters more than the average person appears to understand.  It is our responsibility to educate them on the facts.

As we were all in Dallas for the convention, we adapted a popular Texas motto for our purposes: