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STEM Leader Criticizes Trump Budget Plan for Proposed Cuts to After-School

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Proponents of after-school STEM instruction are coming out against President Trump's plan to eliminate federal funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

The director of STEM Next, a national organization that aims to increase science, technology, engineering and math learning opportunities for students both in and out of school, has made a strongly worded statement against the president's plan.

The learning centers that Trump would eliminate support after-school and summer learning opportunities for students in low-income communities.

In this written statement, Ron Ottinger asserts that the administration is wrong when it says there is no evidence that these programs are effective. He cites research that shows students in after-school programs improve academically as well as research that finds students in STEM-related after-school programs show increased interest in STEM careers.

Ottinger also ties after-school STEM programs to economic development and efforts to decrease the opportunity gap between low-income students of color and their more well-to-do peers.

"For example, the wealthiest 20 percent of families devote almost seven times the resources to their children's enrichment activities outside school than do the poorest 20 percent, leading to a significant learning and opportunity gap, resulting in a 4,000-hour deficit between middle class and low-income children in after-school and summer learning by the time they reach 6th grade," Ottinger wrote.

In the statement, Ottinger recommends that those who are concerned about the effect of these proposed cuts to after-school programs contact their representatives in Congress.

He also criticizes the president's proposed budget for other cuts that he believes would have a detrimental effect on STEM, such as support for STEM programs at science centers and at libraries.

"These cuts would make it much more difficult to ensure equitable access to programs, find and train staff, link STEM mentors with youth, and help schools reach beyond the classroom to connect with communities and the private sector," Ottinger wrote.

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