NCLB Robs Police After-School Programs to Pay Preachers
WASHINGTON - As a result of a $400 million budget cut proposed by President Bush, more than a half-million children and teenagers would lose out on after-school programs that steer them away from crime and drugs, a law-enforcement group said yesterday.
That would lead to more crime and higher costs for taxpayers, according to Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, whose members include 1,800 sheriffs, police chiefs and prosecutors.
"We can pay now for after-school programs and invest in success. Or we can plan to spend far more later on prisons for our failures, and funerals for their victims," Sheriff Drew Alexander of Summit County, Ohio, said at a news conference.
Education Department officials say a study found the federally financed programs had done little to improve students' grades, make them feel safer, or discourage drug use.
"The primary goal is academic achievement," said William Hansen, deputy education secretary. "We don't believe spending $1 billion on what amounts to day care is a good investment."
Spending would be reduced by 40 percent, to $600 million, in the 2004 fiscal year under the proposal Bush has sent to Congress. The fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
At least 6,800 rural and inner-city schools have centers financed largely by the 21st Century Learning Centers program, begun under the Clinton administration in 1997.
About 1.5 million students attend afternoon programs that offer help with homework and include activities such as sports and arts.
The money has gone to school districts as grants that end after three years. Under changes approved last year, the money will be shifted to the states, which will then award grants to schools, community centers or faith-based groups to run after-school centers.
Bush's budget calls for a 5.6 percent increase in education spending in 2004, to $53.1 billion. Most of the increase goes to remedial learning programs for the poor, grants to help disabled children, and financial aid for college students.
Sanford A. Newman, president of Fight Crime, said the Education Department study found that the after-school centers helped black and Hispanic students improve academically. He said long-term improvements in students' values and motivation had yet to be studied.
"We know the best after-school programs produce dramatic results," Newman said.
Groups criticize Bush's cut in after-school programs
Feb. 28, 2003
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES