One of the organizations that is active for the arts - on a National level, especially in education, is Americans for the Arts. I have included several links to their organization, including the sidebar on the left of this article, which connects you to contact information for your own legeslators. They are one of the organizations that lobby for arts initiatives in Washington, and one of the inroads to Congress that we as arts activists, actually can make use of to get our voices heard. Americans for the Arts and their national partners have been lobbying for legislative equity for the arts at the National level this year. You may take a look at those recommendations at their website here.
Last week, Americans for the Arts released a memo updating us on the work that is taking place right now in the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee of Congress, which is the committee tasked with re-writing the ESEA act. Americans for the Arts, has been actively lobbying members of this committee on behalf of the arts, and last week they issued a memo, regarding the current recommendations of that committee. The central portion of that memo is included below:
"The legislation as amended has several items that are of interest to the arts education sector.
1) Arts education was retained as a “core academic subject” – ensuring that the arts maintains this
designation is critical for eligibility to use federal funds locally.
2) The term “core academic subject” has been incorporated into far more programs than No Child
Left Behind did. It now places core academic subjects, including the arts, as central to extended
learning programs, “highly qualified teacher” qualifications, parental engagement programs,
advanced placement and international baccalaureate programs, reading or language arts, and
STEM initiatives. This is a giant leap from the diminutive position that “core academic subject”
held in the No Child Left Behind Act.
3) A new program called Extended Learning was created to provide competitive grants to school
districts to extend their school day – and the arts and music are among the specified reasons
for this new program.
4) The Well Rounded Education Amendment, described in more detail below, and based on the
Obama Administration “Blueprint” proposal, creates a single competitive grant program to
provide support to: arts, civics and government, economics, environmental education, financial
literacy, foreign languages, geography, health education, history, physical education and social
studies. The authorized funding level for this grant program would be $500 million – a set of
similar programs currently receives $265 million this year. This amendment sustains direct
federal support for arts education, which would have been terminated otherwise.
5) Among ten programs of “National Significance” is specific direction for the Department of
Education to support “projects that encourage the involvement of persons with disabilities in
6) The most substantial changes from current law in the legislation are: it ends Adequate Yearly
Progress (AYP) in favor of a measure of “continuous improvement” and it no longer forces
states and local school districts to create evaluation systems in order to receive funding forteacher and principal development. Both of these changes could reduce the “teaching to the
test” and reverse the narrowing of the curriculum that has occurred since NCLB was
implemented. It might also mean that art and music teachers could be evaluated in their
subject area, if a state so chooses, instead of being evaluated on their student’s math and
reading scores. "
Til Next Time
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