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Senators Weigh 'Whole Child' Efforts

In the best of all worlds, many would say that after-school and summer school enrichment programs would be wrapped into a greater, unified system of engaging students and their families. This week, my Education Week colleague Alyson Klein touched on that very issue in her coverage of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. She wrote:

...at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee last week, lawmakers agreed that the idea of educating "the whole child" encompasses a wide range of support services, which advocates are hoping could be reflected in the rewrite of the ESEA. Those include dental and mental health, as well as programs aimed at providing prekindergarten and library services, summer and after-school enrichment, mentoring, college counseling, and increased parent and community involvement.

The Obama administration has proposed spending $210 million in fiscal 2011 on "Promise Neighborhoods," a wrap-around services approach to working with children. But Alyson reports that Sen. Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who heads the Senate education committee, believes that $210 million won't be enough. And some at the hearing pointed out that finding the money to support comprehensive efforts may be difficult these days.

The ESEA reauthorization still has a long way to go, but it will be interesting to track the progress—or lack thereof—of "whole child" efforts generally. And it will be worth keeping an eye out for news of Promise Neighborhoods specifically.

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