Federal Funding for Arts Education
Background on Arts Education Advocacy
Assistance for Arts Education
The Assistance for Arts Education (AAE) program at the U.S. Department of Education is authorized under Title IV of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). It continues the programs previously authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education act as the “Arts in Education” program:
- Arts Education Model Development and Dissemination
- Professional Development for Arts Educators
- National Grant Competition
The Department’s arts education programs have received consistent, annual, bipartisan support from Congress. In FY 2016, Congress approved $27 million for the Arts in Education program, a $2 million increase, making possible a new round of competitive grants.
The program is still funded at $27 million under the FY17 Continuing Resolution currently in place. PAA is asking Congress for $30 million for the Assistance for Arts Education programs in FY18.
See the Arts Education Issue Brief for more details.
Every Student Succeeds Act
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) became law in December 2015, re-writing the federal education law known as “No Child Left Behind (NCLB).” ESSA aims to provide all elementary and secondary students with fair and equal opportunities to achieve a high quality education, and the law includes several provisions ensuring the opportunity for students to access arts education. The U.S. Department of Education and state departments of education are currently producing new federal regulations and state accountability plans to implement ESSA. Education leaders in Congress have pledged to provide oversight as each state sets new directions with expanded responsibilities.
A major change in the law is that while NCLB listed the “arts” as a “core academic subject,” ESSA instead lists the “arts” and “music”–alongside reading, math, and a host of other subjects–in the federal definition of a “well-rounded education.”
See the ESSA Issue Brief for more details.
What's at Stake
While the Performing Arts Alliance keeps you up-to-date on federal advocacy opportunities, remember that your advocacy at the state and local levels will make the critical difference in increasing support for arts education in your community. The most important education policy decisions are made at the local level, in your community, by your state legislators and school boards.
The best advocate for arts education is you: the artist, the staff member, the audience. Use our Action Alert to send a message to your federal lawmakers in support of federal policies that will provide a complete arts education for every child, in every school.
What We're Asking For
We urge Congress to:
- Appropriate $30 million for the Assistance for Arts Education (AAE) programs in the FY 2018 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill.
- Fully fund and implement the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants under Title IV, Part A of ESSA.
- Strengthen equitable access to arts learning through the following actions:
- Make explicit the opportunity for the arts to help achieve Title I objectives
- Thoroughly implement the professional development opportunities for arts educators and school leaders in Title II of ESSA
- Thoroughly implement the expanded STEM program eligibility for the arts in Title IV, Part A of ESSA
- Fully fund the 21st Century Community Learning Centers
Secretary King Acknowledges the Arts in a Well-Rounded Education
In a recent address at Las Vegas Academy of the Arts, U.S. Department of Education Secretary John King spoke about the importance of the arts in a well-rounded education:
“States must commit to providing the resources to every district that are necessary to provide students with a well-rounded education. Arts instruction, science labs, and school counselors – just to cite a few examples – are not luxuries or extras…they are essential–essential to a quality education.”
Read the full speech here.
PAA Submits Comments to the Department of Education
A fundamental change to our nation’s education law is likely to have significant effects on the education programs of arts and cultural organizations nationwide. The U.S. Department of Education recently held two public stakeholder meetings seeking recommendations on the implementation and operation of Title I programs under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the new federal education law replacing No Child Left Behind. This new law aims to provide all elementary and secondary students with fair and equal opportunities to achieve a high-quality education.
Title I of ESSA provides federal financial assistance to schools and school districts with high percentages of children from low-income families to support students’ academic success. PAA’s recommendations to the Department of Education include advice on arts education data collection, transparency regarding student access to the arts in Title I schools, and arts assessment models. You can read PAA’s comments here.
The Every Student Succeeds Act Becomes Law!
On December 10, President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which includes key provisions that support access to arts education. ESSA will replace the current national education law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as “No Child Left Behind.”
This is a historic time for education in our nation! The new law includes several provisions for arts education:
- The arts are included in the definition of a “well-rounded education.” Well-rounded subjects are specified as eligible uses of Title I funds, the largest pool of federal resources dedicated to ensuring equitable access to a complete education for all students.
- ESSA retains the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program which supports afterschool, out of school, and summer learning programs. These are key areas in which arts organizations partner with schools to support student learning in the arts.
- Arts education programs and projects are eligible for funding through the new Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant Program
- Programs supported by the current Arts in Education program at the U.S. Dept. of Education are retained as the Assistance for Arts Education Program.
Click here for more information on arts education provision in ESSA.
ESSA aims to provide all elementary and secondary students with fair and equal opportunities to achieve a high quality education, and these provisions for arts education will ensure that all students, including those in high poverty schools, have the opportunity to access arts education.
This is a significant victory for arts education and your participation in many advocacy calls to action has played an important role in this achievement. Thank you!
New Education Bill Supports Arts Education
Members of a joint conference committee released on Nov. 30 the final text of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a bill 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. The current version of this law is known as “No Child Left Behind.” Committee members worked together last month to combine the House and Senate versions of the bill passed earlier this summer.
The bill contains several provisions for arts education related to the arts education priorities for which PAA has been advocating:
Priority: Retain the definition of core academic subjects which includes the arts and strengthen equitable access to arts learning.
- The term “core academic subjects has been replaced with the term “well-rounded education.” The definition includes the arts:
‘WELL-ROUNDED EDUCATION.—The term ‘well-rounded education’ means courses, activities, and programming in subjects such as English, reading or language arts, writing, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, geography, computer science, music, career and technical education, health, physical education, and any other subject, as determined by the State or local educational agency, with the purpose of providing all students access to an enriched curriculum and educational experience (Sec. 8002, pg. 807).
- The phrase “well-rounded” education appears in provisions related to professional development, afterschool and expanded learning time, English language learners, literacy, and more. Well-rounded subjects are specified as eligible uses of Title I funds, the largest pool of federal resources dedicated to ensuring equitable access to a complete education for all students. Advocates can encourage local and state education policymakers to use their federal funds in these areas to support arts education.
- The bill authorizes “Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants,” (Sec. 4101, Pg. 450). This grant program aims to improve student achievement by increasing the capacity of “States, local educational agencies, schools, and local communities” to:
- Provide access to a well-rounded education for all students
- Improve school conditions for student learning
- Increase the use of technology and improve students’ digital literacy
Authorized use of funding includes activities and programs in music and the arts (pg. 459); using the arts to promote constructive student engagement, problem solving, and conflict resolution (pg. 474), and integrating the arts into STEM subjects (pg. 476) and multiple disciplines (477). This program encourages partnerships between schools and community-based organizations.
Priority: Retain the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program which supports afterschool, out-of-school programs and expanded learning time in schools.
- The bill authorizes this program which “offer[s] students a broad array of additional services, programs, and activities” including “arts and music” which “complement the regular academic program of participating students” (Sec. 4201, Pg. 489-490). Afterschool, out of school, and summer learning programs are key areas in which arts organizations partner with schools to support student learning in the arts.
Priority: Maintain arts education grant support at the U.S. Department of Education.
- In the bill, programs supported by the current Arts in Education program at the U.S. Dept. of Education are retained as the “Assistance for Arts Education Program,” (Sec. 4642, Pg. 626). This is a huge win for the arts: not many other subject area programs were retained in this new bill.
- The Assistance for Arts Education program will award competitive federal grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements for the purposes of “promot[ing] arts education for students, including disadvantaged students and students who are children with disabilities” through:
- professional development for arts educators, teachers, and principals;
- development and dissemination of instructional materials and arts-based educational programming;
- supporting partnerships among schools, local educational agencies, communities, or centers for the arts.
Additionally, the bill makes accountability requirements more flexible. While tests in reading and math are still required under the new bill, states are given flexibility in incorporating other measures of student success – such as student engagement – into their accountability plans and are encouraged to use portfolio and project based assessment when measuring student learning, which may open the door to increased support of arts education strategies.
The overall approach of the bill shrinks the federal role in education reform and hands more decision-making to the states; this means that arts education advocacy at the state and local level will be more important than ever. The House may vote to pass this bill as early as December 2 and a Senate vote may follow soon. After final votes in both chambers and a signature by the President, the Every Student Succeeds Act will become law. Thank you for speaking up for the arts and joining PAA’s advocacy efforts. Your voice matters! PAA will keep you updated on the progress of the legislation.
Congress Begins ESEA Re-write
Progress is being made in Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Leaders of both the House and Senate education committees recently released a joint statement that they had “found a path forward” to begin a “successful conference” to replace the current version of ESEA known as “No Child Left Behind.” 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.
In July, both chambers passed their own versions of the next ESEA: the Student Success Act in the House (H.R.5) and the Every Child Achieves Act (S.1177) in the Senate. This week, a conference committee–a bi-partisan, ad hoc group of lawmakers from both the House and Senate–has started working together to combine the two versions of the bill. Conferees include:
|House of Representatives||Senate|
Suzanne Bonamici (D-1st-OR)
|Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Michael Bennet (D-CO)
Richard Burr (R-NC)
Bob Casey (D-PA)
Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
Susan Collins (R-ME)
Mike Enzi (R-WY)
Al Franken (D-MN)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Mark Kirk (R-IL)
Rand Paul (R-KY)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Chris Murphy (D-CT)
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Tim Scott (R-SC)
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
PAA and arts education advocates have identified several priorities for arts education in this legislation, including maintaining the arts in the definition of “core academic subjects,” allocating $30M for the Arts in Education grant program at the Department of Education, and requiring states to report on student access to and participation in the arts. Several of these asks were included in the Senate’s Every Child Achieves Act. Education Week reports a few known provisions in the preliminary conference bill, but full details, including the stakes for arts education, are not yet known.The conference committee aims to pass a new, revised ESEA by the end of 2015.
PAA will keep you updated on the details of the conference bill, and next steps for ESEA in both the House and Senate, and opportunities to take action and speak up for arts education.
Senate Passes Education Law Rewrite
On July 16, the Senate passed the “Every Child Achieves Act (S.1177), its version of legislation to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). ESEA is the federal education law that funds primary and secondary education. The law 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.”
The Senate’s bill contains several “wins” for arts education. It encourages partnerships between schools and nonprofits for educational programming, it authorizes federal funds for spending on programs that may include the arts, and it acknowledges the importance of the arts by defining it as a core academic subject. Here are a few of those wins:
It creates a new Literacy and Arts Education program.
PAA advocated for the retention of the Department of Education’s Arts in Education program as a distinct grant competition. The final bill includes a section titled “Literacy and Arts Education,” (Title 5, Part H Sec. 5801). It allows the Secretary of Education to “award grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements, on a competitive basis, to eligible entities for the purposes of:
- promoting arts education for disadvantaged students and students who are children with disabilities, through activities such as
- professional development for arts educators, teachers, and principals;
- development and dissemination of instructional materials and arts-based educational programming, including online resources, in multiple arts disciplines;
- and community and national outreach activities that strengthen and expand partnerships among schools, local educational agencies, communities, or national centers for the arts.”
The definition of “core academic subjects” is retained, and it includes the arts.
The final bill defines “core academic subjects” as “English, reading or language arts, writing, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, geography, computer science, music, and physical education,” (Title 9, Part A, Section 9101). This makes arts education eligible for federal funding and gives the arts consideration in other programs authorized in the legislation. For example:
- Targeted Assistance School Programs that aid students at risk of not meeting State academic standards can use Title 1 funds for “programs, activities, and courses in core academic subjects” to help students achieve (Title 1, Part A, Section 1113).
- K-12 literacy programs must “integrate comprehensive literacy instruction into core academic subjects.” For grades 6-12, funds must be used to assess the quality of this integrated instruction (Title 2, Part D, Section 2404).
The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program is restored.
The final Senate Bill restores and authorizes the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program which offers students “a broad array of additional services, programs, and activities” including the arts “that are designed to reinforce and complement the regular academic program of participating students,” (Title 4, Part B, Sec. 4201).
In January, when Sen. Alexander released his discussion draft of the bill–then called the “Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015”–none of these three provisions were included. You spoke up for arts education and took action by responding to Sen. Alexander’s discussion draft in January and contacting the Senate HELP Committee later in the spring. Scores of letters were sent to the Senate expressing the importance of the arts in a complete education; your advocacy efforts made a difference in seeing these provisions included in the final bill.
Schools are encouraged to partner with nonprofits and community organizations.
The bill permits local educational agencies receiving state funds to partner with other schools, community-based services and programs, and nonprofit organizations to develop “programs and activities that offer a variety of well-rounded educational experience[s] for students, such as those that use music and the arts as tools to promote constructive student engagement, problem solving, and conflict resolution,” (Title 4, Part A, Section 4105).
Next, House and Senate leaders will meet to discuss each Chamber’s version of ESEA reauthorization to develop a bill to present to the President to sign into law. We will keep you updated on the status of the legislation while it is in conference.
House & Senate Debate Education Policy Next Week!
House & Senate ESEA Action Alert 7.2.15
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.” (more)
Senate HELP Committee to Consider New ESEA Draft
This is an important week for arts education in the Senate! The Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee is considering a draft bill (the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015) and amendments to update the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), our nation’s education law. The arts community wants the arts to be ensured a place in every child’s education in the new ESEA.
Arts education is at stake in this draft bill: it does not include funding for the Arts in Education program at the U.S. Department of Education, nor does it include funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program which funds afterschool and summertime learning programs which include the arts. Fortunately, it does retain the definition of core academic subjects including the arts! This is a win: this designation makes arts education programs eligible for federal funding such as Title I.
If your senator serves on the HELP committee, he or she needs to hear from you this week.
Chairman Alexander’s ESEA Reauthorization Discussion Draft
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) new chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee released this month a discussion draft entitled “Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015” regarding the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The No Child Left Behind Act is the current authorization of this law.
DoE Awards $13.4 Million in Arts Education Grants
The U.S. Department of Education announced this month this year’s recipients of grants through its Arts in Education (AIE) program. The program awards grants in two areas: Arts Education Model Development and Dissemination and Professional Development for Arts Educators. This cycle awarded $13.4 million to 34 school districts and non-profit education organizations nationwide. See the list of grantees and their awards here on the DoE’s website.
$25M Recommended for Arts Education in FY15
The Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health, Human Services, Education and Related Agencies released its draft bill and report for FY15, recommending $25 million for the Arts in Education program at the Department of Education. The program would remain as a stand-alone program within the Department. Per the report, funding will be used for competitive awards for arts education, professional development activities, model arts education programs, evaluation and dissemination, and for the support of NEA partnerships. This recommendation is the same amount that the program recieved in FY14. Next, the bill must be considered by the full Senate Appropriations Committee.
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. Lawmakers reached a deal on this spending package in December 2013. The spending bill allocates $25,000,000 to the Department of Education’s Arts in Education program for FY14 which restores its budget to FY12 funding levels. The program has avoided both elimination and consolidation into a grant program with other academic disciplines. Due to our advocacy efforts, the Arts in Education 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.
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