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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 7, 1999

                     Expanding After School Programs 
                       and Ending Social Promotion

The East Room, The White House

January 7, 1999

Today, President Clinton will be joined by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vice President Gore as he announces his FY 2000 budget proposal to triple funding (from $200 million to $600 million) for the 21st Century Learning Center Program, which funds after-school and summer school programs throughout the country. 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 that students meet academic standards in order to move to the next grade.

Tripling Funding for a Program that Works. President Clinton's FY 2000 budget will propose to increase funding -- from $200 million in FY 1999 to $600 million in FY 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 the President's budget victory last year, in which he obtained an increase in funds for the program, from $40 million to $200 million. 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. Over 190,000 children in 800 schools, in 46 states and the District of Columbia, are already benefiting from this program, by participating in after-school programs that provide students with enrichment activities, tutoring, recreation and other activities. The President's proposal would help roughly 1.1 million children each year participate in these programs.

Giving Priority to School Districts that End Social Promotion. Under the President's proposal, school districts with comprehensive policies in place to end social promotion will receive priority in the grant-making process. 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. 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.

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. School districts with comprehensive policies to end social promotion: (1) require students to demonstrate that they have met academic standards at key grade levels in order to be promoted; (2) use valid objective measures and other indicators to determine whether a student has met the standards; (3) strengthen learning opportunities in the classroom through steps such as clear standards, small classes, well trained teachers, challenging curriculum, and the use of proven instructional practices; and (4) provide for the early identification of students who need extra help to meet the standards and use extended learning time -- particularly after-school instruction and summer school -- to help students meet the standards. The President's proposal would help local school systems use after-school and summer school as part of their comprehensive strategy to end social promotion.

Responding to Huge Demand for After-School Programs. Today's announcement responds to the millions of parents across the country who want their children to meet high standards and to stay safe and secure in after-school hours. Today, over 28 million school-age children have both parents or their only parent in the workforce. 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 at much greater risk of being the victims of crime during the hours after school.

The nationwide demand for expanded after-school programs has made the 21st Century Community Learning Center program 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, requesting more than $550 million to fund programs in over 6,000 schools in every state in the nation.