California leads the nation in after-school programs, placing first in a national survey, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said Thursday.
The Afterschool Alliance gave California its top ranking in the 2014 edition of its America After 3 p.m. survey, singling the state out for both strong participation among students and high satisfaction with after-school programs among parents. It found that expanded learning participation in California had increased to 25 percent, compared to 19 percent in 2009, with more than 1.6 million students enrolled.
After-school programs provide homework assistance and tutoring, sports and arts activities, as well as a safe place to go after school before parents arrive home from work. Stockton Unified has a robust K-8 program but lost funding at the high school level earlier this year.
“From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. is the danger zone,” former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, honorary chairman of the Afterschool Alliance, told EdSource. “Juvenile crime, teenage pregnancy, gangs, alcoholism and drugs cost society a lot of money.”
“Superintendent Torlakson has spearheaded efforts to make California number one in the nation,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. “He created a statewide after school initiative within the California Department of Education that has increased quality and access to after school programs across this state. … From extraordinary STEM programs, to service learning, to its trailblazing literacy programming, California has done an amazing job with afterschool programs.”
California’s expanded learning programs today reach about 4,500 schools around the state. They are, in large part, funded through voter-approved Proposition 49, which guarantees $550 million annually for the state’s After School Education and Safety Program. California administers another $120 million in federal after school program funds, according to the California Department of Education.