Terminator Touts After-School Programs

ByABC News
May 13, 2003, 6:30 PM

May 14 -- He's journeyed to Mars, bantered with DeVito and saved Earth from apocalyptic machine domination, but now the Terminator (aka Arnold Schwarzenegger) is battling a much stronger foe: the White House.

Appearing Tuesday before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Schwarzenegger vigorously defended full funding of the Department of Education's 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which supports the development of local after-school programs.

The actor-cum-advocate and possible Republican candidate for governor of California dismissed the Bush administration's plan to cut 40 percent of the after-schools program budget from $1 billion to roughly $600 million in a year that it had been scheduled to rise to $1.75 billion.

Defending the cut, Deputy Secretary of Education William D. Hansen relied on the first of three studies by the Mathematica Policy Research Co.

In his written statement, Hansen argued the Mathematica study shows children in after-school programs did not improve their reading scores, and they did not perform better on homework. The deputy secretary also asserted the federal program had "no positive impact on delinquent behavior" and that "program participants were slightly more likely to have sold drugs or smoked marijuana than non-participants."

Schwarzenegger, bolstered by the sympathetic after-school participants Madison White, 9, and Steven Kinlock, 17, shot back: "It would be a mistake, let me repeat, a big mistake, to use that study as justification to reduce current funding levels for after-school programs. Instead of cutting back the funding for after-school programs, we should begin to work together to focus on finding ways to improve them."

Education Department: Cut First, Improve Later

Nevertheless, Hansen and Grover Whitehurst, the Department of Education's newly minted assistant secretary for education research, insisted the program should be cut first and improved later.