Should John Kline Visit Northfield Before Eliminating its Community Learning Program ?

Are you familiar with the television program “Undercover Boss” ?
Simple premise … CEO disguises himself as an everyday worker to get insight into the company … the stories may be a way to garner some good publicity but they do not always have a happy ending as The Washington Post recently reported.
But at least the CEO came out from the boardroom and saw, heard, and learned, first hand from the people on the ground floor.

Thus the question, are you familiar with the program “Undercover Congresswoman” ?

Charlotte, North Carolina
Today, Congresswoman Alma Adams (NC-12) kicked off Undercover Congresswoman, a series of tours highlighting companies that provide career opportunities for local community college graduates. The Congresswoman went undercover as a student at Central Piedmont Community College, one of the largest community colleges in the 12th District.

What a great idea.

Hmmm … I wonder if Chairman John Kline has ever considered going “undercover” ?
Do you make decisions from the Chairman’s chair or should you visit the “shop floor” ?
Especially when Chairman Kline’s H.R. 5, Student Success Act, advocates eliminating a number of existing programs ?

As part of Chairman Kline’s No Child Left Behind reform, this new version of the bill eliminates after-school programming that were provided through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program (NCLB previously funded after-school programs.)

Are you familiar with the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program ?

In 1994, Senators Jim Jeffords (R-VT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Representatives Steve Gunderson (R-WI) and William Goodling (R-PA) were the prime sponsors of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Act (S.1990, H.R.3734).
John Kline was not part of Congress then … but the bill was approved easily including support from Jim Ramstad (R-MN).

The focus of the 21st CCLC, under the No Child Left Behind Act, was on after-school program services — specifically, targeting students attending high-poverty, low-performing schools. The services they provide include academic enrichment activities that can help students meet state and local achievement standards. They also provide additional services designed to reinforce and complement the regular academic program, such as: drug and violence prevention programs, counseling programs, art, music, and recreation programs, technology education programs, and character education programs.

These federal funds, authorized under Title IV, Part B, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2001, are awarded through a competitive process.
The Minnesota Department of Education administers the 21st Century Community Learning Centers and during 2013, Minnesota programs involved 32 grantees with 35 grants operating 112 centers during the year … including Greenvale Park Elementary in Northfield … right there in the heart of Chairman Kline’s district.

Since Chairman Kline denied requests to hold informational hearings prior to the mark-up of H.R. 5, the only opportunity was for a Committee Member to speak out for this program.
Representative Lou Barletta (R-PA) spoke about the program and its impact on his district :

21st Century Community Learning Centers are currently the only federal funding source to be dedicated exclusively to afterschool, before school and summer learning programs.
As we know, student success is not only measured by student achievement but by student engagement. Students participating in 21st CCLC have shown improvements in homework completion, class participation and attendance. This all leads to better grades, better behavior and lower incidences of drug use and violence.
After-school programs offer a safe environment for kids to further their academic learning rather than seeking out and joining gangs. In my District, the nationally recognized SHINE After school Program offers afterschool and summer learning programs for kids from pre-K up through college. High school students mentor younger students, and STEM and the arts are incorporated into programming for all kids. The Schools and Home SHINE program uses a successful public private partnership model where local school districts partner with a nearby college or university.
I hope the Committee will consider the importance of afterschool programs to our nation’s kids and families, and will continue to work with me to see that American students succeed not only in academic achievement but in student engagement as well.

The After School Alliance submitted a letter to Chairman Kline, on behalf of hundreds of local groups, pleading that the funding continues.

Afterschool and summer learning programs can be essential partners to community schools and provide an infrastructure to bring in other resources to our children including access to mentors, tutors, nutritious snacks and meals, and in some places medical, dental and mental health programs. For-profits, faith-based organizations, community-based organizations (CBOs), tribal organizations, non-profits, charter schools, local governments, colleges and universities and others currently serve as critical partners and lead organizations under 21st CCLC and help foster the broad positive results the program has yielded.

Now is the time to step up support for students during the time when they are not supported by school or family, the hours after school when 11.3 million children are unsupervised and juvenile crime and other inappropriate activities peak. The unmet demand for afterschool programs has steadily risen over the last 10 years to approximately 19.4 million children (41 percent) in 2014 that are not currently in an afterschool program but would be enrolled in a program if one were available to them, according to their parents (America After 3PM, 2014). Eliminating the dedicated 21st CCLC funding stream would mean most, if not all, of the funding currently supporting 1.6 million students in afterschool and summer programs is at risk of being redirected to other purposes.

Chairman Kline is focused on one overriding premise … “we must reduce the federal footprint in our classrooms by rooting out waste”.
Hmmmm … how do you know if it’s waste unless someone can find Chairman Kline’s footprints in the classroom ?
The Kline Agenda is simple — if it’s a government program, it must be waste.

While studies may show the value of 21st CCLC, Chairman Kline sees government overreach … yet, isn’t funny how the program was designed by leading Republicans and even in his committee hearing, it was a Republican speaking out on its behalf.

Chairman Kline, through the power of the gavel, was able to pass the bill out of committee on a party line vote. It will go to the House, where it will be “rubber stamped” (even though a similar bill last term did have a few Republicans voting NO … with the renewed desire to maintain party discipline in roll call votes, it will be interesting if anyone denies Chairman Kline.)
Then it will go on to the Senate … and in the Senate there already is a bi-partisan group objecting to the funding cut.

Just makes you wonder, when you read John Kline’s OpEd stating :

I look forward to working with Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate, and the White House, to tear down barriers to progress and grant states and districts more freedom to think bigger, innovate, and take whatever steps are necessary to put more children on the right path to a brighter future.

Gosh, it appears that there are many Republicans that see the value in this program, leading the question :
Should Chairman Kline come out from behind the gavel and visit to one of the Community Learning Centers in Minnesota where he can engage with current enrollees, past program participants, parents, administrators, and supportative groups before finalizing this cut ?

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