Afterschool Alliance questions waiver provision for NCLB

The Afterschool Alliance raises some questions about the waiver package that allows states to bypass some of the legislative requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  The issue of the Afterschool Advocate published October 6, 2011, states that states could use 2ast Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) funds to add time to the regular school day, rather than to support after school programs.

The Advocate states:

Given the high cost of extended learning time programs compared to afterschool, it is estimated that for each school that uses 21st CCLC to add an hour to its day, six afterschool programs would lose their funding. The afterschool community is urging states to think carefully before checking this optional box, which would allow for a temporary change in the use of 21st CCLC funds – and urging states that do check the box to make sure that expanded learning time is defined to include the best of afterschool practices: community-based partnerships; engaged hands-on learning that enhances and supplements, but does not replicate, the school day; and opportunities to involve parents.

Let’s carefully examine the definition of “Extended Learning Time”, or ELT. For some schools adding some time to the school day or week would simply be a way of bringing them up to a competitive level with other school districts. It seems to be a bit of an over-generalization to specify the cost of an hour added to the school day.

Is there a downside to federal funding of ELT? Does this give school districts an incentive to wait for federal funding before adding time to the school day? How is the distinction made between the hours that should be funded by the localities, the states, and the federal government?

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