Arts Education

Action Alerts:

7/2/15: House & Senate Debate Education Policy Next Week!

Next week is a big week for arts education on Capitol Hill! Both the full House and full Senate will debate their own versions of legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). ESEA is the federal education law that funds primary and secondary education and aims to provide all students with fair and equal opportunities to achieve a high quality education. It was last reauthorized in 2002 as "No Child Left Behind." Next Tuesday, July 7, the Senate will debate its ESEA legislation, the "Every Child Achieves Act" (S. 1177), and will consider amendments to the bill. Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) are offering an amendment encouraging states to measure and report on indicators of student access to critical educational resources. Core academic subjects are one of these indicators, and this includes the arts. This type of transparency from states is key to ensuring that all students have equal access to high quality arts education. As early as next Wednesday, July 8, the House will debate its ESEA legislation, the "Student Success Act" (H.R. 5), and will consider amendments to the bill. In ESEA reauthorization, PAA is advocating for:

  • retaining the definition of "core academic subjects" which includes the arts,
  • retaining the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which funds afterschool and summertime learning programs,
  • retaining the Arts in Education program at the Department of Education, and
  • requiring states to be transparent and report annually on student access to arts education.


ACTION: Join the effort and write to your lawmakers! Encourage them to support arts education in their versions of ESEA. PAA has drafted letters that you can send to both the House and Senate. Take action before next Tuesday, July 7!

4/13/15: Senate HELP Committee to Discuss ESEA this Week (Targeted to Senate Committee)
This is an important week for arts education in the Senate! The Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee will consider a new bipartisan draft bill to re-authorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), our nation’s education law. Entitled the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, the draft bill would update ESEA, and the arts community wants the arts to be included and ensured a place in every child’s education. Your senator serves on the HELP committee and needs to hear from you this week as the committee discusses numerous amendments being introduced to the bill. Urge your senator to protect arts education in ESEA. In January, we alerted you about the chance to weigh in on an early draft of this bill authored by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN). Many of you responded and spoke up on four key points:

- Retaining the definition of "core academic subjects" which includes the arts.
- Restoring the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program which funds afterschool and summertime learning programs which include the arts.
- Restoring the Arts in Education program at the Department of Education which supports grants for educator professional development in the arts and model arts education programs.
- Requiring states to give an annual report on student access to arts education.

The new draft being considered this week does retain the definition of core academic subjects including the arts! This is a win for the arts: this designation makes arts education programs eligible for federal funding such as Title I.  The bill does not, though, include direct support for afterschool or summertime learning programs or the Arts in Education program at the U.S. Department of Education.
ACTION: Click this link to contact your senator THIS WEEK and tell him or her to support the arts in ESEA. Speak up and share your story of the importance of arts education!

2/26/15:Speak up for Arts Ed in the House of Representatives!
Tomorrow, February 27, the U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), our nation’s education law. Last month, PAA alerted you to weigh in on draft ESEA legislation in the Senate, and many of you voiced your support for arts education in that bill. It’s now time to speak up for arts education in the House. The House majority’s proposal recommends broad changes to the federal leadership role in education reform. House Democrats are likely to offer alternative proposals for consideration, and the votes on each measure are expected to fall along party lines. You know how important the arts are in providing a complete education for every American student. Share these key messages about arts education with your Representative:

- Currently, federal law defines the arts as a “core academic subject.” Any future versions of ESEA should retain this definition; it makes arts education eligible for critical federal resources that address inequalities and strengthen education.
- It’s critical that state-level data about student access to arts education be collected and publicly reported. Knowing how much or how little arts education is being offered in our schools helps ensure all students have equitable access to it. Federal law should require this transparency.
- Arts education must be supported in ESEA provisions for early childhood education, afterschool and out-of-school learning, teaching effectiveness, school turnaround efforts, charter schools, and student assessment.
- The U.S. Department of Education should continue to administer the Arts in Education competitive grant program which advances educator professional development in the arts and model arts education programs.
ACTION: Take action by tomorrow and tell your Representative about the importance of arts education!

1/29/15: Protect Arts Education
Earlier this month, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the new Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released a discussion draft of the "Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015." This Act would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act which governs our nation's public education system. Several provisions in this law would threaten arts education, both during school time and after school. The draft:

  - deletes previous language defining “core academic subjects” which has included the arts in the past,
  - eliminates the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program which funds afterschool and summertime learning programs often including the arts,
  - ends the Arts in Education program at the Deptment of Education which supports grants for educator professional development in the arts and model arts education programs,
  - does not require states to do annual reporting on students’ access to arts education.
ACTION: The HELP committee is accepting public comments on this draft untilMonday, February 2.Personalize a letter to send to the committee asking them to continue federal support of arts education.

3/4/14: Arts in Education funding threatened to be Consolidated in FY15 Budget
The President's FY15 budget once again eliminates funding for the $25 million Arts in Education Program at the U.S. Department of Education in favor of consolidating the program into a broader fund for “Effective Teaching and Learning for a Well-Rounded Education”. The President is proposing that 10 subjects of learning – including geography, foreign language, and the arts – compete against each other for a total FY15 funding pool of only $25 million. Arts advocates are calling on Congress to maintain distinct funding for the Arts in Education Program at a level of $30 million in FY15.
ACTION: Stay up to speed on Art in Education Funding at the Federal level on the PAA website.

1/17/14: FY14 Budget Victory for Arts Education
On Friday, January 17, President Obama signed into law the $1.1 trillion spending package passed a few days prior by the House and Senate. The spending bill allocates $25 million to the U.S. Department of Education’s Arts in Education program for FY14 which restores its budget to FY12 funding levels. Thanks to your advocacy the program remains a stand-alone program within the Department of Education and its budget has recovered from the 5% cut it received in the FY13 sequester.
ACTION: Read more about how the arts are impacted by the FY14 Budget in the PAA’s January 2014 Appropriations Update.

News Alert! Arts in Education funding Zeroed Out Again
The President’s FY14 proposal once again zeros out the Arts in Education program to fund a new pool of resources titled “Effective Teaching and Learning for a Well-Rounded Education.” The program is proposed to develop and expand innovative practices for improving teaching and learning in the arts, health education, foreign languages, civics and government, history, geography, environmental education, economics and financial literacy, and other subjects.” It is important to note that the total amount for the consolidated pot of money has diminished with each successive year, and in FY14 is further whittled from last year’s $90 million proposal to $75 million for all of the covered subjects, combined. Learn more about Arts Education legislation on the PAA website and voice your support through this campaign.

Archived Arts Education Action Alerts here

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