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

Ron Ottinger, 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 statement denouncing the president’s plan to eliminate federal funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

Ottinger’s statement argues against the assertion made by the administration that there is no evidence showing afterschool programs are effective. He cites research demonstrating students in afterschool programs improve academically, and that students in STEM-related programs show increased interest in STEM careers.

Ottinger also tied afterschool programs to economic development, and the effort to decrease the opportunity gap between low-income students of color and their more well-to-do peers. “The wealthiest 20% of families devote almost seven times the resources to their children’s enrichment activities outside school than do the poorest 20%… resulting in a 4,000 hour deficit between middle class and low-income children in afterschool and summer learning by the time they reach 6th grade.”

He also criticized other proposed cuts 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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