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January 7, 1999

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We must insist on more accountability not just from students but from parents, teachers, principals, school superintendents, and elected officials. We must have more high-quality child care so that all children are ready to learn on the first day of kindergarten. By raising our investment in quality after-school programs, we are taking a crucial step towards transforming our public schools so that every child in America has a world-class education for the 21st Century.

President Bill Clinton
January 7, 1999

Today at the White House, President Clinton is joined by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, as he announces a proposal to triple funding for the 21st Century Learning Center Program, which funds after-school and summer school programs throughout the country, in next year's budget. The President will also announce that in awarding these funds, the Education Department will give priority to school districts that are ending social promotion by requiring students to meet academic standards in order to move to the next grade.

Giving Schools The Resources They Need To Increase The Quality Of Learning. The President is proposing a three-fold increase in funding for fiscal year 2000 for the 21st Century Community Learning Center Program, which gives schools funds to operate after-school and summer school programs. This proposal builds on a funding increase the President secured in last year's budget. The 21st Century Learning Center Program:

  • Increases the supply of after-school care in a cost-effective manner, primarily by funding programs that use public school facilities and existing resources;
  • Has already benefitted over 190,000 children in 800 schools, in 46 states and the District of Columbia who are participating in after-school programs that provide them with enrichment activities, tutoring, recreation and other activities;
  • The President's proposal will help roughly 1.1 million children each year participate in these programs.

President Clinton Is Working To End Social Promotion In Our Schools. Social promotion is the practice of promoting students from grade to grade without regard to whether they have met academic standards required to succeed at the next grade level. After-school and summer school programs are a critical tool in ending social promotion because they give students who are not on track an opportunity to get extra help so they can meet promotion standards. Under the President's proposal, school districts with comprehensive policies in place to end social promotion will receive priority in the grant-making process. The President's proposal will target the new 21st Century funds to districts providing after-school and summer school programs to help these students, while enabling these districts to keep these programs open to all students.

After-School Programs Strengthen Our Communities And Help Our Children Learn. At least 5 million children -- and possibly as many as 15 million -- are left alone at home each week. Experts agree that school-age children who are unsupervised during the hours after school are far more likely to use alcohol, drugs, and tobacco, commit crimes, receive poor grades, and drop out of school than those who are involved in supervised, constructive activities. Statistics also show that most juvenile crime takes place between the hours of 2 and 8 pm, and that children are also at much greater risk of being the victim of crime during the hours after school. The 21st Century Community Learning Center program is one of the most highly competitive programs ever managed by the U.S. Department of Education. In the Education Department's last completed grant competition for this program, the Department received nearly 2,000 applications to fund programs in over 6,000 schools in across the nation.

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