With municipal budget season upon us, agency leaders must stand in solidarity with racial justice movement leaders and take swift action. The values shift in this moment is palpable and budgets are values. But how? With a coalition of 17 afterschool agencies here in Los Angeles, so far, this is what we have done or have learned.
The 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative has positively impacted communities across the country since the inception of the funding stream in 1994. 21st CCLC programs serve as a critical piece in addressing many issues today. These programs provide students with unique opportunities they might not otherwise have access to. Programs are positively impacting students and the communities they serve. Many programs are reporting academic, behavioral, and social and emotional gains among students, and decreased juvenile crime within the community.
This imperative is as true now as it was before the pandemic. Schools and districts will be overwhelmed with a panoply of student needs in the fall, and we must ensure that every single child, regardless of disability, has the chance to make up for lost time. This is why we are urging Senate leadership to ensure that any future COVID-19 relief package provides significant additional funding for school districts, including $11 billion in dedicated funding under IDEA for state grants, to appropriately meet the needs of students who experience disabilities.
Five students from Julia R. Masterman Laboratory & Demonstration School successfully made their case in their application to the Historical and Museum Commission with help from teachers at Masterman and professors and archivists at the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and the University of Michigan. With the submission of their 104-page application, the students were able to document the national impact of the Philadelphia protest.
Counselors have had to learn how to stay emotionally connected to students and families in the new virtual classroom. Compounding the lack of technology and internet connectivity that make it so challenging for high-needs students to participate in remote learning is the trauma experienced in those same communities, disproportionately ravaged by COVID-19. While loss is being encountered by schools in every borough, many counselors find themselves transformed into full-time grief counselors for families staggering under the emotional weight of the loss of loved ones, sudden unemployment, mental and physical anguish, and hunger.
Juneteenth, an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, has been celebrated by African-Americans since the late 1800s. But in recent years, and particularly following nationwide protests over police brutality and the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other African-Americans this year, there is a renewed interest in the day that celebrates freedom.