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Two Ways the State Legislature Can Support Expanded Learning in 2015

by School's Out Washington | | Posted under Policy & Legislation

The 2015 Legislative Session, which begins in January, is going to have a major impact on education for years to come. Due to the McCleary Decision, the state will need to make major changes to how education is funded, affecting everything from teachers’ pay, to activities in the classroom and expanded learning.

Afterschool, summer and Expanded Learning Opportunities (PDF link) need to be a part of these important decisions. Expanded learning programs close the loop on learning, providing children an opportunity to apply what they learn during the school day in activities they care about. Expanded learning programs provide youth with the space to discover their passions and develop 21st century skills through creative approaches to learning, building relationships with caring adults, and having fun. They are shown to not only improve academic results, but also decrease discipline referrals and increase attendance and positive behavior.

School’s Out is asking our state legislature to support Expanded Learning, afterschool, and summer programs this session, and we’ve identified two potential ways they could make huge impact:

Increasing Expanded Learning for Youth in Communities of Color and Rural Areas

Children in communities of color and rural areas can be served by a variety of quality Expanded Learning programs, both large and small. In order to serve more children in these priority areas, School’s Out is championing efforts to refocus the existing (and unfunded) Washington Community Learning Center (PDF link) program to provide additional resources for both large and small afterschool and summer programs in communities of color as well as low-income and rural areas.

Strengthening Academic Supports through Afterschool and Summer Programs

Only one of the state’s education funding streams currently has the ability to support Expanded Learning Opportunities. It’s called the Learning Assistance Program (LAP), and it is aimed at improving academic success for underachieving youth. Unfortunately, most districts are not working with their out-of-school time providers, or other community-based organizations, to improve academic outcomes. School’s Out is supporting legislation to increase school-afterschool partnerships by creating a process for community-based organizations and school districts to work together to effectively utilize LAP dollars for children and youth that are underachieving. It is time for school districts and community-based organizations to work together to find more opportunities to keep kids engaged in learning both in and out-of-school time.

Learn more about Schools Out Washington’s 2015 Legislative Agenda here.

Feel free to contact David Beard, School’s Out’s Education Policy & Advocacy Director, with any questions about the upcoming legislative session and to find out more about how you can get involved.

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