Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was in the nation’s capital this week, using his star power to prevent federal dollars from getting diverted from after-school programs.
The Governator came out slugging, voicing concern about schools requesting waivers from the U.S.Department of Education that would allow them to use federal after-school money from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program to lengthen the school day or school year, according to a Huffington Post article. The piece said officials with an advocacy group, the Afterschool Alliance stated that 24 states have requested waivers that would result in as many as 60,000 students losing their after-school programs.
There’s a longstanding debate over how flexible federal requirements should be for the 21st Century grants program, pitting after-school advocates against those who wish to use the money for an extended school day and other interventions, as we’ve reported in Education Week.
“There has been an attempt to take this funding, ... and they thought no one would notice,” the story quoted Schwarzenegger as saying.
Support for after-school programs is a cause that Schwarzenegger, now an honorary chair of the Afterschool Alliance, has rallied behind since 2002 when he campaigned for Proposition 49, which created the After-School Education and Safety Program, which currently provides $550 million each year for such programs in California. He also founded a group called After-School All-Stars. This group provides after-school programs in hundreds of schools throughout the country.
In addition to appearances on Capitol Hill, Schwarzenegger could be found on Reddit voicing support of after-school programs. He also wrote in an opinion piece for the publication Politico about he has seen firsthand that after-school programs can do remarkable things for kids, families, and communities.
“There is a large and growing body of evidence showing that comprehensive after-school programs help inspire kids to learn and help working families,” he wrote, saying research has shown that every dollar spent on after-school programs results in a $3 return in the form of reduced crime, improved student performance, and reduced social services costs.
It looks as though he is citing a study in 2002, which was in part funded by the Afterschool Alliance, to determine the estimated costs and benefits of California’s after-school initiative.
Schwarzenegger also shared this link on Reddit, to a compendium of studies, reports and commentaries on expanding learning and after school programs.
“We know the programs work, so my argument is simply not to cut something we know is effective,” he said on Reddit. “I’d love to increase funding, but I understand that there is limited money to go around right now so I’m just trying to protect what we have.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Time and Learning blog.