Action Alert: House Introduces Education Reform Legislation That Would Eliminate All Arts in Education Funding
May 14, 2011
This is reposted from http://www.menc.org, the Music Educators National Conference website. Please read this and contact your members of Congress and tell them you OPPOSE House Bill H.R. 1891.
May 13, 2011
Dear MENC members,
We are writing today to ask that you take action against new legislation introduced only a few hours ago threatening to repeal authorization for Arts in Education funding (specifically for the Kennedy Center, Very Special Arts, model programs, and professional development grants). Please contact your members of Congress and tell them that you oppose House bill H.R. 1891 (the “Setting New Priorities in Education Spending Act”), which would eliminate 43 education programs in total; including the authorizing language for the Arts in Education programming indicated (this legislation would not impact Titles I and II access). We are gravely concerned about the effect that these cuts would have on music education programs across the country now and in the future. Advise your elected officials to reject the language in H.R. 1891, and tell them that in order to provide America’s students with a balanced education curriculum:
Funding must remain available to music programs in all appropriate ESEA-authorized programs,
particularly in Titles I and II.
This legislation, introduced by Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA), chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, and strongly supported by Representative Kline (R-MN.), chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, is the first in a series of five possible ESEA reform bills that may emerge out of the House in the months to come. While Chairman Harkin (D-IA) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has publically stated on numerous occasions that he is unwilling to pursue ESEA reform “piecemeal,” as the Republican House prefers, it remains significant that a true ESEA bill of some kind has been introduced, and it is highly problematic that cuts to arts programming are immediately back on the table.
We understand the urgency to identify savings in federal expenditures, but this should not be done by lessening the overall American education experience. As you already know, music provides students with the opportunity to express creativity and to develop skills that will benefit them throughout the rest of their lives. In addition to its inherent, cultural value, music teaches everything from coordination to self-discipline, and provides a variety of unique avenues for intellectual growth. Additionally, music education helps children practice teamwork, poise, and public composure. Truly, music is the ultimate vehicle for 21st Century Skills.
We have seen this movie before. Arts in Education funding, the music and arts community’s core link to federal recognition for the arts, is important to maintain at the federal level. MENC stands shoulder to shoulder with our colleague associations in the field on this issue. Please, take this opportunity to remind your members of Congress of the importance of maintaining federal funding for the arts in ESEA, and stand tall for music education!
A series of talking points and an overview of jeopardized programming have been provided below to aid in your advocacy efforts. We encourage you to please write us back and let us know about your experiences in reaching out to members of Congress. This will help us to improve our efforts and to enhance our advocacy strategies. Thank you in advance.
Michael A. Butera
Executive Director, MENC
Advocacy Talking Points
- Music promotes 21st Century Skills development, offering a balanced education curriculum to students and better preparing them for the workforce
- Students with 4 years or more of arts and music study score significantly higher on reading, math and writing sections of the SAT College Board test
- Arts-based learning is known to promote collaboration, creative problem solving, and the ability to apply learning across different disciplines
- Schools with music programs have significantly higher graduation rates than those without programs
Arts in Education Threatened Programming Overviews
- Very Special Arts
VSA offers support for projects that encourage the involvement of disabled people in the arts and foster an increased awareness of the need for arts programs for the disabled. VSA projects include training and technical assistance activities, information services, and public awareness activities.
- John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts
The Kennedy Center offers performances, professional development, and other educational activities that emphasize the importance of the arts in education. The Kennedy Center also works with the Alliance for Arts Education, a network of state arts education committees, to focus on incorporating the arts into school curricula.
- Professional Development Grants
This program supports the implementation of high-quality professional development model programs in elementary and secondary education in music, dance, drama, media arts, and visual arts for arts educators and other instructional staff of K-12 students in high-poverty schools.
- Model programs
This program supports the enhancement, expansion, documentation, evaluation, and dissemination of innovative, cohesive models that demonstrate effectiveness in:
-Integrating into and strengthening the arts in the core elementary and middle school curricula
-Strengthening arts instruction in those grades
-Improving students’ academic performance, including their skills in creating, performing, and responding to the arts
- National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector.
- National Endowment for the Humanities
The National Endowment for the Humanities is an independent grant-making agency of the United States government dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities.