Letter to Senator Ensign expressing NEA's support for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Act of 2007 (S. 1557)
July 18, 2007
Dear Senator Ensign:
On behalf of the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association (NEA), we would like to express our support for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Act of 2007 (S. 1557). We thank you for your leadership in introducing this key legislation, which will provide students with much-needed after-school programs.
As you know, the availability of quality after-school programs plays a critical role in keeping children off the street and engaged in constructive, enjoyable activities. After-school programs also help enhance academic achievement. In fact, students participating in 21st Century Community Learning Centers show vast improvement in academic performance, homework completion, and classroom participation.
We particularly support provisions in your bill that would strengthen the sustainability of promising programs and improve the overall quality of after-school programs. Additionally, we are pleased that your bill would add physical fitness and wellness programs, as well as service learning and youth development activities as allowable uses for 21st Century Community Learning Center funds. After-school programs have been identified as effective venues for improving nutrition and providing access to physical activity at a time when childhood obesity threatens the health of many of our nation's students. Further, service learning and youth development activities give students the opportunity to design their own projects that address community needs and are integrated with their academic studies, leading to improved student engagement and enhanced student achievement.
Again, we thank you for your leadership on these important issues. We look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure great public schools for every child.
Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations
Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy