With a new Senate underway, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) may undergo some unpopular changes, particularly when it comes to arts education. New Senate education committee chairman, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), has released a proposed reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Alexander proposes to revise, the “No Child Left Behind” Bill passed by George W. Bush in 2002. However, with his proposed changes, he may actually be leaving children behind.
Specific changes include:
- Terminating references to all federal core academic subjects, including arts education in the classroom;
- Terminating authorization of $1 billion in after-school programs, of which many include after-school arts activities for children;
- Terminating the small, but mighty, federal Arts In Education program which has supported over 200 model grant programs for over a decade;
- Omiting indicators of student access to the arts as part of annual state reporting (example is New Jersey’s report) that helps identify the equity gap.
“Should lawmakers make changes that undermine the core values of ESEA by ignoring equity, gutting federal accountability or shifting resources to block grants, they will jeopardize our children’s futures, particularly children in poverty, children of color and children with disabilities.” Mark Morial, National Urban League
Here’s how you can help make a difference.
Senator Alexander is accepting public comments (email them to FixingNCLB@help.senate.gov) on his draft legislation until Monday, February 2nd. Share your thoughts and opinions with the Senator and help make arts education a national priority.
Update: February 2, 2015
President Obama just released the Administration’s FY 2016 budget request to Congress. In the budget, the President recommends a range of increases in federal funding for the majority of national arts and cultural agencies, programs and institutions. The proposed budget has increased by over $2 Million from 2014. Now, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate will offer their own budget proposals by April 15th, followed quickly by the actual appropriations bills to fund these programs.