Harming Children: Continued Funding for the 21st Century Learning Centers

David B. Muhlhausen /

Photo credit: Newscom

Photo credit: Newscom

Congress has a clear justification, based upon rigorous scientific evidence that the Department of Education’s 21st Century Learning Centers harms children, for ending the program. Despite this finding, Congress appears intent on continuing the program.

Compared to the 2013 continuing resolution funding level of $1.173 billion, the omnibus spending bill decreases funding by a mere $24 million to $1.149 billion.

The role of the federal government in funding after-school programs increased substantially after passage of the Improving America’s School Act of 1994, which created the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. A 2007 multisite experimental impact evaluation of the program found a whole host of harmful effects.

Overall, teachers found participating students to have disciplinary problems that were confirmed by student-reported data.

According to their teachers, participating students were less likely to achieve at above average or high levels in class and were less likely to put effort into reading or English classes. These students were also more likely to have behavior problems in school than their counterparts. Teachers were more likely to have to call the parents of participating students about misbehavior. Participating students were also more likely to miss recess or be placed in the hall for disciplinary reasons. Their parents came to school more often to address behavior problems. Participating students were also more likely to be suspended from school than similar students.