Barletta Obtains Commitment to Programs like SHINE
Rep. Barletta enjoys a “marshmallow pizza” with a SHINE student in Wilkes-Barre on February 18, 2016
Click here for video of Barletta’s Q&A with Acting Secretary of Education Dr. John King
WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta, PA-11, today obtained the commitment of the acting Secretary of Education to support after school programs like SHINE (Schools and Homes in Education) that are helping expand educational opportunities for students and engage their families and communities in the education process. In a hearing of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, Barletta elicited the endorsement of Secretary John B. King after describing SHINE, a successful educational program in Carbon, Luzerne, and Schuylkill Counties he has championed with state Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon). In the most recent education legislation, Barletta successfully restored the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which accounts for a significant portion of SHINE’s funding.
“I have worked on SHINE for many years back home with my friend, state Senator John Yudichak – a Democrat – because helping our kids succeed should always be a bipartisan cause. Today, SHINE provides academic support for nearly 500 students from seven school districts,” Barletta said. “Afterschool programs like SHINE are known to improve academic achievement, increase school attendance, and engage families in education. They also keep our kids safe resulting in lower incidences of drug-use and violence.”
Barletta described his February visit to the Wilkes-Barre Area Career and Technical Center to witness the activities of SHINE students in 5th through 8th grades. The children were making marshmallow pizzas as part of a larger project of using computer software to design and run a business to make a profit. Barletta used the experience to emphasize the importance of such programs to current and future students.
“Dr. King, do you anticipate any variance from the law when it comes to implementation of the 21st Century Community Learning Center program?” Barletta asked. “And can you commit that the Administration will work to support programs such as SHINE?”
King responded that the administration is a supporter of programs like SHINE as well as others the 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding supports.
“I certainly am a strong believer in the power of after school programs and I think about my own experience as a middle school principal. For some kids, after school is the time when they would be most at risk if they did not have the opportunity to be in a meaningful, engaging program at school or in a community-based organization,” King said. “We will certainly implement, consistent with the law, the 21st Century program.”
Beginning in February 2015, Barletta began painstakingly working to restore the 21st CCLC program. The original House version of the bill eliminated the program; however, Barletta negotiated 14 changes to the base text of the bill in support of afterschool programs, and specifically the SHINE model, in the House Education and the Workforce Committee. He also engaged in a colloquy with committee Chairman John Kline (MN-2) to establish a record of support for such programs. On the floor of the House, Barletta spoke in support of his own successful amendment that requires school districts to report to state agencies on the use of Title I money for afterschool activities to further demonstrate the importance of such programs. Finally, when the legislation reached the conference committee, Barletta sent a letter to lead House and Senate negotiators imploring them to preserve the 21st CCLC program. As a result, the conference report passed by the House today authorizes $1 billion in funding for the 21st CCLC program.
Barletta and Yudichak have worked to promote the SHINE afterschool program, which is flourishing in Carbon and Schuylkill Counties and is now in its first year in Luzerne County, to improve academic achievement, increase school attendance, and engage families in education. The SHINE program focuses on project-based STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) activities for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.