Over six months ago, 250 guests from 11 states and 16 cities nationwide came together for Meet in the Middle: Expanded Learning Summit where we laid out an important mission -- make expanded learning opportunities the new normal for all students, especially during the critical middle school years. Some KEY TAKEAWAYS include:
- High-quality expanded learning can help raise student achievement through engagement and mentoring during the critical middle school years, a leading indicator of success in college and beyond.
- Many districts and schools could get close to funding extended learning time (ELT) under more flexible policy conditions, but funds are often still tight and uncertain year to year. Hence, increased local, state and federal funds that are concentrated for student need would give schools and districts the ability to make ELT a sustainable reality.
- By 2022, our economy will require more than nine million STEM professionals; currently, we're producing fewer than 300,000 college graduates to fill these jobs. Hence, it is critical to partner with STEM professionals to share their experience and teach students how to apply their academic learning in STEM to real life situations in order to inspire and ignite their interests.
- States like Massachusetts, New York, and North Carolina--among others--have supported expanded learning in their budgets or through legislation to provide high-quality expanded learning opportunities.
View the summit sessions online to learn more about a wide variety of topics such as:
- THE CRITICAL MIDDLE SCHOOL YEARS
- SCHOOL DISTRICT AND LOCAL INITIATIVES
- STATE INITIATIVES
- MENTORSHIP & CIVIC ENGAGEMENT
- LUNCH KEYNOTE PANEL: INNOVATION
- SUSTAINABLE FUNDING FOR EXPANDED LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
- FEDERAL INITIATIVES
- STEM PARTNERSHIPS AND LEARNING
- SUMMER LEARNING PROGRAMS
- THE VALUE OF EXPANDED LEARNING --VOICES FROM THE FIELD
In addition, all reports, handouts, and PowerPoint presentations can also be found HERE.
CALL TO ACTION
We encourage you to remain an active part of the national discussion for expanded learning, here are a few things you can do to make ELT the new normal for all students:
This work is far from finished, and we encourage you to continue to TAKE ACTION by:
- Sharing Your Story -- LinkedIn is running a #ThankYourMentor Campaign. Please take a few minutes to #ThankYourMentor today!
- Volunteering --Join one of our convening partner organizations or find an expanded learning or mentor program near you using sites like mentoring.org, volunteermatch.org, US2020, and Million Women Mentors.
- Advocating -- take two clicks and two minutes to respond to this ACTION ALERT on legislation in the U.S. Congress.
POLICY & LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
Since the summit, Citizen Schools and others in the expanded learning field have been actively involved in advocacy and policy development at the federal and state level to support expanded learning time programs.
ESEA Reauthorization -- The U.S. House and Senate passed respective bills to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) earlier this year. Each chamber has appointed members to a conference committee to decide on a final version of the bill to be signed into law by President Obama. The Senate bill, Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177), which passed with strong bipartisan support, preserves federal programs critical to expanded learning and STEM. In addition, the bill provides enough flexibility within the program to support states, districts, schools, and community partners that provide high-quality expanded learning time. In September 2015, Citizen Schools, along with the National Center on Time & Learning and the Afterschool Alliance, sent a letter to education committee leaders with signatures from 671 organizations across all 50 states calling on Congress to adopt the Title IV language in S.1177 in a final reauthorization bill. Please click on the links to view the letter and press release. Congress is expected to vote on a final bill before the end of the year.
Budget & Appropriations--On November 2, 2015, President Obama signed the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015” into law to raise the debt limit and set the federal budget for the next two years. The deal extends the debt ceiling to March 2017 and raises the budget caps set by the 2011 budget agreement. The bill increases spending caps for defense and nondefense discretionary spending by a combined $80 billion over fiscal years 2016 and 2017. Nonetheless, each congressional appropriations subcommittee must reset their allocations for specific programs in order to pass an omnibus bill for the President to sign into law. We urge Congress to restore cuts to federal programs that support expanded learning, such as the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) program that provides targeted funds for expanded day and out-of-school time programs, and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that administers the AmeriCorps program. Moreover, we are urging Congress to avoid using the appropriations process to create new restrictions, known as a “policy rider”, on the 21st CCLC program that would set back the progress being made on the authorization side. In particular, we oppose the current provision in the FY16 House Labor-HHS Appropriations bill that would prohibit states and districts from using expanded learning time as part of their 21st CCLC programs. This policy rider would be particularly harmful to states, districts, and schools that have already incorporated expanded learning time into their 21st CCLC programs.
Career & Technical Education (CTE) -- In October 2015, the US Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee solicited recommendations and proposed legislative changes to the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006. Citizen Schools recommends the Perkins Act be more inclusive of middle school grades, including offering enough flexibility in the law to allow state and local entities to leverage federal CTE funds for middle school CTE-related coursework and learning activities. Currently, the funding is targeted for activities at the secondary and post-secondary level, which in some states includes seventh and eighth grade, but usually not sixth grade.
Title II and Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) -- Citizen Schools, along with several Summit convening partners, were part of a group of 9 organizations that collectively produced a memo to the White House’s Domestic Policy Council on the use of ESEA Title II and the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) dollars to support expanded learning programs. We are now working with staff at the US Department of Education on non-regulatory guidance and proactive letter to states highlighting and encouraging the use of Title II and TIF funds for expanded learning.
Texas -- In September 2015, Citizen Schools submitted proposed interim charges to the Texas Senate requesting that the Texas Legislature examine opportunities and make recommendations about evidence based models that can be used by Texas public school districts and charter schools, including but not limited to postsecondary education and career counseling in middle school, for addressing implementation of high school endorsements. The Senate Interim Charges were released in October and include a reference to address training support for counselors and advising courses for middle school students. We are continuing to advocate for the importance of high-quality mentoring and learning opportunities for middle school students in Texas.
North Carolina -- In July 2014, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a budget that included $5 million for “Competitive Grants to Improve After-School Services”. This is targeted funding carved out of state funds already appropriated for school services to at-risk youth. The Department of Public Instruction (DPI), the State Education Agency, was then charged with designing and executing the grant program, including prioritizing programs that integrate clear academic content in STEM learning opportunities or reading development and proficiency instruction. In 2015, the NC final budget included an additional $1M in grant funds for a total of $6M.
PARTNERSHIPS & COALITION BUILDING
White House Announcement -- Expanded Learning Middle School Initiative -- Twenty education-based organizations from across the nation are investing a collective $620 million to create the Expanded Learning Middle School Initiative and enhance learning for 1.3 million 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders over the next five years. Steven Rothstein delivered the announcement on behalf of the group at the White House Next Gen High School Summit, a national conversation on transforming high schools to better serve 21st century high school students. Click HERE for the official White House fact sheet, which includes a blurb on the middle school announcement (page 10). Click HERE for the press release Citizen Schools released on behalf of the group
While we have made and seen tremendous gains since the Meet in the Middle: Expanded Learning Summit, there is still a long way to go. We hope you continue to feel inspired and empowered by the Summit and encourage you to continue engaging with each other, with policymakers, and with your communities. Again, please see the call to action for specific steps to take.