State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today toured the Summer Learning program at Robla Elementary School in the Robla School District to voice his opposition to proposed federal budget cuts that would harm this program and many others in California and the nation.
President Trump has proposed eliminating all funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers. These centers run After School, Summer Learning, and other Expanded Learning programs.
Nationally, his proposed cuts would remove $1.2 billion in funding. In California, the proposed cuts would take away $137 million of the total of $730 million spent on Expanded Learning programs, or about 18 percent of the total budget.
“Today we are shining a light on the wonderful Summer Learning and After School programs that engage, teach, and inspire 860,000 students in California each year,” Torlakson said. “President Trump’s proposed budget cuts could devastate Summer Learning and After School programs. These proposed cuts are short-sighted, counterproductive, and just wrong. As leaders, we should be searching for ways to help our students thrive, rather than blocking proven paths to success.”
Torlakson urged the public to join him in fighting against the proposed cuts by contacting members of Congress and asking them to reject the cuts.
“Expanded Learning programs are effective,” Torlakson said. “They help improve student attendance, cut dropout rates, reduce juvenile crime, and boost academic success. For every dollar we spend on these programs, we save $9 in societal costs.”
Furthermore, they are especially helpful to students who come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. In California, 81 percent of students in these programs are eligible for free and reduced price lunches.
In addition, these programs are highly popular among parents. The Summer Learning program at Robla Elementary School serves about 100 students. Students participate in a variety of activities such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) projects, geography, music, art, and physical fitness. Eighty-seven percent of the students qualify for free and reduced meals.
If the Trump budget were to pass, Robla School District would lose about 44 percent of its budget for Expanded Learning, $96,000 out of a total of $218,498, forcing destructive program reductions.
Torlakson, a former a high school science teacher and coach, knows first-hand the benefits of high-quality after school and summer programs that combine academics, recreation, art, music, drama, and homework assistance. As a state legislator, he authored bills beginning in 1998 to create, expand, and increase standards for Expanded Learning programs in California.
Expanded Learning is just one educational area targeted by Trump for cuts. His proposed budget also would slash teacher training, mental health, advanced coursework, and nutrition programs for students from poor families.
His proposed health insurance legislation would take away health insurance for millions of children from low-income families, making it more difficult for them to be healthy and ready for school.
Torlakson thanked the Governor and the Legislature for boosting state funding for After School Education and Safety Programs by $50 million in the recently passed state budget, but said that federal money is still critical for California programs.
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The California Department of Education is a state agency led by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. For more information, please visit the California Department of Education’s Web site or by mobile device. You may also follow Superintendent Torlakson on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.