SHINE Highlighted as Success at Congressional Hearing
Rep. Barletta and his dog, Reilly, visiting with students from the SHINE afterschool program.
WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) recently joined with national experts on workforce development to highlight the success of the SHINE, or “Schools and Homes in Education,” afterschool program during a House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development hearing. The hearing focused on the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which was signed into law during the 113th Congress and contained provisions similar to Barletta’s America Works Act, H.R. 497, to encourage states and localities to prioritize federal spending on education and training. Barletta discussed the role afterschool programs, like SHINE, play in helping students to succeed in school and develop the skills necessary to land jobs.
Louis M. Dubin, Chairman of the Maryland Governor’s Workforce Development Board and the main expert witness at the hearing, applauded SHINE’s efforts to connect students with technical and career experts. SHINE is a successful educational program in Carbon, Luzerne, and Schuylkill counties that Barletta has championed.
“Congressman Barletta, the SHINE afterschool program in your district is an example of a rural afterschool partnership that is preparing our students for the future,” Dubin said. “Partnering with the Carbon Career and Technical Institute and the Lehigh Carbon Community College, SHINE provides an innovative educational model by teaming technical experts with academic teachers and through hands on career projects connects students to math/science with a real world application.”
Barletta echoed Dubin’s praise, stating that, given its record of proven success, SHINE could be a model for other afterschool programs across the country. Barletta stated that one of SHINE’s many strengths is connecting students with career and technical experts so that they are exposed to job opportunities at an early age.
“We all know that we must bridge the skills gap to help more of our constituents realize good-paying jobs and help our local businesses thrive,” Barletta said. “This is good for our communities, and it’s good for America. But I believe we must also work to remove the stigma that’s associated with non-traditional, technical careers. Studies show that educating students about their options at a young age is central to this goal.”
Dubin pointed out that afterschool programs, such as SHINE, help students develop “soft skills,” or the personal attributes necessary to land and maintain jobs – something that Barletta said he often hears from employers in his district.
“I had a local employer approach me just a couple of weeks ago and said he had 100 good-paying jobs, but cannot find people to fill them,” Barletta said. “In fact, his biggest hurdle he said was getting people to pass the drug test. And I hear this more and more often, and it is discouraging when there are so many people unemployed. There are so many jobs that are available, and we know what we’ve got to do to teach the skills. But I think somewhere we’ve got to go back to teach basic skills, like showing up to work on time.”
Dubin said that Maryland spends “considerable resources” helping students to develop soft skills, often called “employability skills,” which include punctuality, dependability, maintaining a positive attitude, and communication skills, among other attributes.
“Soft skills are important,” Dubin said. “Not everyone had the advantage of growing up with people around them that taught them the things you need to be successful. And so I’m also a big proponent of soft skills training, and we see those big success stories all the time because that little element of soft skills gives someone the ability to go and do an interview and get a job.”
Barletta has been consistently recognized for his work on behalf of afterschool programs, such as SHINE. Last Congress, Barletta was instrumental in saving the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program, which provides nearly 50 percent of SHINE’s funding. As a result of his leadership in saving federal funding for afterschool programs, Barletta was the only House member to receive the 2016 Congressional Voice for Children Award from the National Parent Teacher Association. He was also named an “Afterschool Hero” by the Afterschool Alliance, and earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network named Barletta an Afterschool Champion for his commitment, dedication, and outstanding work on learning programs.
Click here to watch Congressman Barletta’s exchange with Mr. Dubin during the hearing.