Thursday, October 21, 2010

Budget Cuts and Out-of-School Time Programs: Why We Can't Skimp Now

Out-of-school time (OST) programs are a critical component of educating all students - learning (whether formal or informal) doesn’t end at 3pm - yet when education funding tightens, these programs are often first on the chopping block. Sean Cavanagh at Education Week wrote today about a new report from the National Governors Association outlining the recession's impact on state education funding:

The lean era for education is also likely to last for at least a few years. State revenues aren't expected to return to pre-recession levels until at least 2013, the report states. The seriousness of state budget woes have led state officials in Texas and Florida to consider increasing class sizes. Maine officials consolidated school districts across the state two years ago, with the goal of saving $36.5 million. Other victims of budget shortfalls, identified by the NGA: after school programs, gifted-and-talented programs, and even state tests in some subjects. Expect more budgetary pain in the time ahead.

The impact of these cuts are even more significant for poor and minority students - even in a stable economy, high quality, positive learning opportunities for these students are scarce.

Schools, districts, and states can mitigate the need to cut funding for afterschool and summer programs by partnering with community-based providers that bring the know-how, the variety, and the private dollars into schools to provide these types of opportunities.

At Higher Achievement, "opportunities matter" is our mantra - we know that every single child possesses the talent and potential to achieve great things. When the economy is struggling, we have an even bigger obligation to pull together resources from all sectors - private, public, and non-profit - to make certain that our children have the opportunities they deserve.

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