Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger met with policy makers on Wednesday as part of an initiative with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy.
Dean of the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, Jack H. Knott, accompanied Schwarzenegger on the Policy in Action trip to three different meetings with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“This is exactly what Arnold envisioned for the USC institute,” USC Schwarzenegger Institute Global Director Bonnie Reiss said. “This is putting policy into action by meeting with congressional leaders and truly influencing policy decisions.”
Schwarzenegger and Knott met with lawmakers regarding funding for after-school programs. Approximately 8.4 million students in the United States currently participate in the federal government’s after-school program, but a reallocation of funding might take away the federal grants that fund 1.6 million kids.
The Policy in Action trip was planned after Schwarzenegger wanted to explain the reasons these after-school programs are essential.
“My goal is to keep the funding for the after-school program by the federal government and not have that money diverted into other areas of education,” Knott said. “A lot of the research coming out of universities shows that after-school programs are very important for academic achievement and keeping students out of crime. So, as a school we are very supportive of these programs and making sure funding is sustained.”
The Schwarzenegger Institute also stressed that another achievement of these meetings is bipartisan cooperation.
“Especially in light of the government shutdown, the fact that Democrats and Republicans are working together because of our invitation is important,” Reiss said. “This is the other great accomplishment that we are doing.”
Participants in the day’s meetings included senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) as well as representatives Karen Bass (D-Ca;if.), Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Tom Petri (R-Wis.), Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.).
Reiss joined Schwarzenegger and Knott on the Policy in Action trip, and Executive Director of the Afterschool Alliance Jodi Grant and CEO of After-School All-Stars Ben Paul also participated.
After-School All-Stars, one of the country’s leading after-school programs, was founded in 1992 by Schwarzenegger. The program now serves more than 400 schools in 15 major cities. Activities run from Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., and allows students to be supervised during peak crime hours.
Many USC students were supportive of after-school programs.
“These programs are a good thing to keep,” said Michelle Ngan, a freshman majoring in biological sciences. “It keeps kids entertained and is good for parents who can’t take care of their kids right after school. Especially because a lot of after-school activities can be very expensive.”
Ngan added that though she never attended the programs, many of her friends did.
ASAS provides enrichment, academic and health and fitness programs. In the Los Angeles area, the program serves 37 schools and 22,536 students.
“This is an important issue that affects Los Angeles and also the country,” Knott said. “Especially for the younger students coming into our education system. They need this type of support and it would help the future of our economy.”
After their three meetings Wednesday, Schwarzenegger and Knott visited the After-School All-Stars program at Stuart Hobson Middle School in Washington, D.C.
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