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Fitchburg Council public hearing

Latoya Greer-Bey distributes shirts backing the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County during a Fitchburg City Council public hearing Oct. 10 at the Fitchburg City Hall. About 250 people showed up to express their dissatisfaction with Mayor Jason Gonzalez eliminating funding for the club and other nonprofits from the city's proposed 2018 budget. PHOTO BY JOHN HART/STATE JOURNAL

Countries that care about children establish standards and provide support for after-school programs — ensuring that every child has access to educational assistance, athletic and arts activities, and safe spaces just to hang out. Where governments make a commitment to such programming, with guarantees of care and sufficient funding, the results are incredibly positive. Just look at the achievements of Scandinavian countries, which have recognized the need for a smart balance between great schools and great after-school programming.

Unfortunately, the United States has made no such universal commitment. And it shows. This is one of the many reasons why the U.S. trails other countries in educational attainment and broader measures of child development.

Because our federal and state governments do such a lousy job of providing support for after-school programs, nonprofit groups and community organizations must attempt to fill the void. They need support, from both the private and public sectors.

For this reason, we believe that the city of Fitchburg, which is currently wrestling with the question of whether to continue to provide funds to the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, needs to find a way to continue supporting this club's vital programming.

Michael Johnson, the president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, said: "They have an obligation to make sure the kids are represented in that budget.”

We agree.

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The point here is not to put particular pressure on Fitchburg. Every community has the same obligation. But we hope that Fitchburg will choose to lead in doing what is right and so very necessary.

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