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Schwarzenegger, US Education Secretary Make Local Visit To Highlight California's After-School Program Push

A light-skinned brown man with glasses and a blue tie and another man, who is white and wearing a blue suit, sit in a theater and applaud.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona (left) applauds with former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger after a student performance at Bell Gardens Intermediate School on Nov. 16, 2022.
(Kyle Stokes
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U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visited a Bell Gardens middle school on Wednesday to promote his call for more before- and after-school programming in public schools. Cardona was flanked by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who championed a funding measure for extracurricular programming that Cardona called a national model.

The backstory: In 2002, California voters approved Proposition 49, which set aside millions for before- and after school programs in public schools. Schwarzenegger championed that measure in part because he wanted to create safe places for students to hang out after class: “Between 3 and 6 o’clock is the danger zone for children — because they are by themselves after 3 o’clock. So what do they do? They get into trouble."

Did it work? Research out this month from USC’s Schwarzenegger Institute and Claremont Graduate University suggested that, since California’s after-school funding measure passed, high school graduation rates are up and teen incarceration, pregnancy, and absenteeism have decreased.

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Scaling up: Cardona is launching a national effort to urge schools to spend their federal stimulus dollars on extracurricular offerings. He said California dedicates more funding to after-school programming than all 49 other states combined: "I want to see a commitment at all levels — at the state, at the local level, to commit to after-school programs like I saw here today.”

What do the GOP's midterm wins mean for Biden's education agenda? Cardona’s stop in L.A. County comes as Republicans regained a majority in the U.S. House for next year. Cardona hoped that education wouldn’t become a partisan issue in a divided Congress: “Our goal is not just to recover from the last two years, but to give students more ability to thrive, to be engaged, to go on to postsecondary education. That takes a commitment on both sides of the aisle.”