Hoyer Op-Ed: Full-Service Community Schools: A Bipartisan Victory to Help America's Students Succeed

For Immediate Release:

December 10, 2015

Wanted to be sure you saw today's op-ed by House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) on Huffington Post after the Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into law by President Obama. The law reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and includes a provision encouraging the expansion of full-service community schools, which combine education and a wide range of social services that help prepare students for success in the classroom and beyond. Whip Hoyer has been a strong champion of full-service community schools for many years. To read the op-ed, click here or see below:

Full-Service Community Schools: A Bipartisan Victory to Help America's Students Succeed

By Steny Hoyer

December 10, 2105

I was proud to be on hand today as President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act into law, which includes a provision I authored to encourage the wider adoption of the full-service community schools model. This model locates education and social services - like health and dental care, nutrition assistance, and career counseling and adult education courses for parents - together in one place.

When children are hungry or sick or have parents who are out of work, they have trouble learning and performing well in school. That's why taking a holistic approach to the well-being of our students is critical to improving their performance in elementary and secondary school classrooms, which in turn yields dividends later in college and in careers. And that's why I've been a strong advocate for this model for many years.

By including my full-service community schools language in the Every Student Succeeds Act, this new law will help bring existing community resources into schools to make them more easily accessible to students and their families. It will also encourage the wider adoption of the full-service community schools model by offering at least ten competitive grants of $75,000 annually each through the Community Support for School Success program.

This codifies an effort I led in 2007 to fund a $10 million demonstration program through the U.S. Department of Education that, so far, has awarded thirty-two grants across the country over the past five years. Investments in closing the achievement gap yield tremendous dividends for our economy as today's students are given the resources and education necessary to become tomorrow's innovators and job creators.

This model has been extraordinarily successful in my home state of Maryland, where we've built a network of fifty-two full-service community schools - a number that is growing every year. Named in memory of my wife, who spent her career as an early childhood administrator, educator, and advocate in Prince George's County, these Judith P. Hoyer Early Child Care and Family Education centers - or "Judy Centers" - serve thousands of low-income preschoolers and their families.

The Maryland State Department of Education has found that low-income children whose families accessed services through Judy Centers perform better when tested for kindergarten than students whose families did not benefit from Judy Center programs. The better our students perform early in their lives, the more opportunities they will be prepared to seize as they get older and head to college and into the workforce. This model can be just as successful when applied to elementary and secondary school children.

I've introduced legislation to encourage the expansion of full-service community schools since 2004, and I will continue to work with educators, administrators, and policymakers to ensure that low-income students have every resource to succeed in school and reach for a place in the middle class. I'm grateful for the support shown for this effort by the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the Coalition for Community Schools, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and so many other groups.

I'm glad that Democrats and Republicans serving on the House Education and Workforce Committee and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee were able to come together to ensure that a bipartisan, bicameral compromise could be reached to bring an Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization bill to the Floor that included support for expanding full-service community schools.

The enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act was a rare victory for bipartisanship in Congress. Democrats and Republicans came together to move compromise legislation that provides resources for teachers, students, and school districts across the country. But closing the achievement gap will require Congress to build on this success by working together on further bipartisan investments in education. This legislation represents an important step forward, but there is much more we can achieve together to expand full-service community schools that will help ensure that all of our children can learn at a high level and reach for future success.

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