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Legislative Update: A Lot Happening in Olympia, Funding Concerns Federally

by Danielle Baer | | Posted under Policy & Legislation

Legislative session is in full swing in Washington State, and it has been a busy one for SOWA due to the large number of bills involving expanded learning opportunities (ELOs). We are thrilled to see so many opportunities for ELOs in addition to our own legislative priorities. We are working closely with our partners on the Expanded Learning Opportunities Coalition, legislators, and other partners to ensure that expanded learning remains a strong presence throughout session.

Read on for updates on our legislative agenda!

Expanded Learning Opportunities Initiative

Our main focus during session is the ELO Quality Initiative. We are seeking $4 million to continue and build upon the work we were able to achieve over the past year through our four-county pilot, which was funded with a $1 million investment from the State. SOWA is building legislative champions in both houses and is planning a work session in front of the education-related committees to further educate legislators about the importance of high-quality expanded learning. We have made exciting progress but need your help to let Olympia know just how important this initiative is – please take a few moments to contact your legislators via our convenient form!

STEM Expanded Learning

Through our partners at Washington STEM, SOWA has been tracking the progress being made on the Computer Science for All and Career Connected Learning asks. Each of these are inclusive of expanded learning, and were both included in the Governor’s budget released earlier this year. In addition to the governor, interest and support of these asks is coming in from business and industry, community partners, and educators. We look forward to continuing to work with Washington STEM!

Federal Legislative Updates

At the Federal Level, SOWA is carefully monitoring the actions of the new administration and new congress, in particular activity around the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC). SOWA supports a funding level $1.167 billion for the 21st CCLC program. At this level, which is equal to FY2016 spending, providers of expanded learning opportunities will be able to sustain quality programming for 1.6 million children nationwide and 15,000 children and youth in Washington.

Currently, Washington State receives approximately $16.5 million dollars annually to support community learning centers, which provide children in high-poverty and low-performing schools with academic enrichment opportunities after school and in the summer.

The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) reports that these programs have a positive impact on student mathematics achievement and cumulative GPA, and significantly decrease unexcused absences and disciplinary incidents. Also, research from Dr. Debra Vandell found that high-quality expanded learning programs have shown positive effects not only on academics, but also on behavior, school attendance, and on student self-confidence and engagement in school.

Be sure to contact your representative and senators through our form to tell them to support 21st CCLCs!

We send regular updates on what's happening in Olympia and DC through our Action Alerts. Don’t receive them yet? You can sign up here.

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