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Some New York Lawmakers Push for More Spending on After-School Programs

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A group of New York state senators wants to invest a lot more in after-school programs, all-day kindergarten, and community schools.

Members of the Independent Democratic Conference, or IDC, are calling for what they've termed a 50-hour learning week.

"Learning shouldn't end after 3 o'clock," said state Senator Jeff Klein, the IDC's leader. "It also shouldn't only include the four walls of a classroom."


The proposal calls for spending $550 million to provide after-school programs throughout the state and $60 million to make all-day kindergarten available for every child.

"New York State is one of five in the nation that does not mandate kindergarten, and in 18 districts across the state some students receive a half day or full day," said Klein. "They're not guaranteed a full day."

The proposal would also spend $155 million to expand community-learning schools. These schools work with various stakeholders in the community to provide more than just academics. For example, some offer health services as well as enrichment programs for students and their families.

Klein says the state increased education funding last year by $1.6 billion, and he's hopeful for a similar increase this year.

"It's not only about increasing the money for education, which I'm all in favor of, but I think we have to take a strategic approach, and I think the 50-hour learning week is the right strategic approach," said Klein.

New York legislators are set to approve a budget by April 1.

Photo: Students congregate on the steps of Martin Luther King Jr. High School on Manhattan's Upper West Side before leaving school for the day. (Kathy Willens/AP-File)

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