Lawmaker Pushes School Enrichment Programs

By John Celock

A Democratic lawmaker in Kansas is urging his colleagues to back school enrichment programs in the state.

Rep. John Wilson (D-Lawrence) used a floor speech Thursday to promote the work of the Kansas Enrichment Network and before and after school programs, along with weekend programs. Wilson’s remarks came as regional ambassadors from the Kansas Enrichment Network and other school programs advocates were in the Capitol.

“They are designed to reinforce and complement better environment,” Wilson told his colleagues.

Wilson, the House Democratic policy chairman, told lawmakers that 70,000 students statewide participate in afterschool programs currently. He said that another 132,000 would participate if the programs were made available. Wilson’s remarks came at the beginning of the daily House session, when lawmakers recognize groups and topics.

Wilson, a national youth engagement advisor for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation professionally, stressed the benefits of the programs to the House. Among the topics he touched on were studies showing those participating in the programs having higher grades, better school attendance and better behavior.

Joining Wilson during his remarks were students from several programs including French Middle School STEAM after school program, Robinson Middle School SWIM after school program and the Boys and Girls Club of Topeka after school program.

Wilson told his colleagues that the programs have a variety of components including STEM education, counseling, mentoring, substance abuse and violence prevention and cultural enrichment.

Wilson stressed that lawmakers need to explore the topic going forward for the benefit of the state.

“Just twenty percent of a typical student day is spent inside the classroom. Before school, after school and summer programs are designed to support working families by offering their children learning opportunities outside of regular school hours,” Wilson said. “These programs keep Kansas youth safe, engaged, and learning. Children who attend afterschool programs show higher grades, better school attendance, and improved behavior.”