State Superintendent Willing to Fight to Keep After-School Programs

SACRAMENTO COUNTY -- Meet 10-year-old Jesslyn Willeford. Every day the fifth-grader walks to her after-school and summer programs at Robla Elementary in Sacramento County.

"Here we do like loads of activities. We do like reading and math and science, and it's really fun," she said.

One of the programs Jesslyn loves is the Sacramento Start Program. It's funded by a federal grant and mostly helps low-income families. But some state educators say this program and others are in jeopardy because of President Donald Trump's proposed budget cuts. Jesslyn is worried too.

"I would lose my mind 'cause this is so much fun, and I get to just hang out with all my friends," she said.

In a March, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told the press there is no evidence that after school programs work.

"We take the federal money and give it to the states and say 'look, we want to give you money for programs that don't work.' I can't defend that any more. We can't defend that anymore," Mulvaney said.

But for California's state superintendent there's plenty of proof.

"These programs are completely valuable, completely effective. Think about it, they're doing science here, social science and history here -- they are getting skills for life and we want those kids to succeed," State Superintendent Tom Torlakson said.

Torlakson spent Tuesday morning getting a first-hand look at the summer programs offered in the Robla School District. He's not the only person who sees the changes these programs make every day.

"It absolutely is an extension of the learning that students are doing during the school day, so we know that there is an impact on the achievement students have," said Robla School District Superintendent Ruben Reyes.

Success that California is ready to fight for.