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Elementary and Secondary Education Act
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Dedicated Funding for Summer Learning

ESEA Update: December 10, 2015 

On December 10, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act, reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act through 2020, and maintaining significant investments in summer learning.

This largely bipartisan bill was passed by the House of Representatives (359 – 64) and the Senate (85-12) after months of discussion and negotiation that led to a compromise framework. This long awaited reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education signals the end of the No Child Left Behind era. The new bill maintains many important protections for low-income students while giving states and districts greater flexibility to choose education strategies that fit community needs. The new law goes into effect starting with the 2016-2017 school year.

The Every Student Succeeds Act maintains the 21st Center Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) grant program as a separate program dedicated to summer, afterschool, and extended learning opportunities. This represents a big win for the out-of-school time community and for students who need high-quality learning experiences to continue after the school day ends in order to stay on track to college and career readiness.

The Every Student Succeeds Act also affects summer learning by putting more control into the hands of states to implement programs most appropriate to the needs of individual communities. This offers many opportunities for summer learning to have a meaningful impact on student achievement, such as:

  • Maintaining targeted resources for at-risk students, funding activities that supplement regular school day learning.
  • Expanding accountability to include social and emotional skills at which summer programs excel.
  • Providing new grant funding for community schools and promoting other strategies that strengthen alignment between schools and community partners.
  • Increasing access to STEM education both in and out of school.
  • Focusing resources on English-language learners, native students, rural students, and homeless students.
  • Allowing states to choose the strategies that will help them turn around their lowest performing schools.

Congress increased funding for 21st CCLC by $15 million for FY2016, bringing the total to a record-high $1.167 billion.

Funding Challenges Remain
There is still work to do to adequately fund summer learning, afterschool and extended school day programs at a level that meets the high level of demand for these programs. The new Every Student Succeeds Act reduces the annual authorized level for 21st CCLC funding from $2.5 billion to $1.1 billion through 2020, just below currently funded levels. While we appreciate the maintenance of the program, we encourage Congress to consider funding this program at a level more closely in line with demand for these services, which play a critical role in closing the opportunity and achievement gaps. No matter how well we do the nine months of the school year, low-income children will fall behind their higher income peers in the summer without access to critical supports provided by 21st CCLC programs such as meals, books and dedicated teachers and youth work professionals. Millions of children are on the outside looking in at these opportunities; we won’t rest until all of them have access to summer learning opportunities that help them succeed in college, career and life.

Your Senators and Representatives need to hear from constituents about the importance of summer learning and the 21st CCLC program in your community. You can write to them, urging them to adequately fund the 21st CCLC program, and all programs that support student success.

Click here to take action now.

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