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Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson December 16, 2009

Administration backs off pledge to double afterschool program funding

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to double funding for the 21st Century Learning Centers program, so that it can serve 1 million more children. The program, run by the Education Department, funds before- and afterschool programs as well as related services for their families. All told, the program served an estimated 1.6 million children and 250,000 adults in 2009.

Now that the appropriations process for fiscal year 2010 is complete, we can conclude that the administration didn't come close to achieving its goal. And it can point the finger at itself.

When the White House released its fiscal year 2010 budget request for the Education Department, it requested exactly the same amount in 2010 for the program as it had spent in 2009 -- a bit over $1.1 billion.

When the House approved its version of the appropriations bill, it actually added $50 million for the program to what the president had requested. The Senate stuck to the president's amount. When negotiators from both chambers hammered out a compromise, they upped the amount by $35 million, to a little under $1.2 billion. So the amount the president signed into law was about 3 percent higher than the fiscal year 2009 level -- not double, as he had promised.

It's possible that the administration may one day choose to double this program. But for now, we label it a Promise Broken.

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