After several attempts over the past few years, Congress is making progress in updating the No Child Left Behind Act, also known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The Arts Education Funders Coalition has been advancing its systemic policy agenda for ESEA as part of the Senate and House process to move ESEA legislation. Just this past week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (Senate HELP) Committee approved their version of an ESEA rewrite on a unanimous 22 to 0 vote. The AEFC arts education agenda was well represented as part of this legislation.
Aspects related to our agenda that were included in the bill are:
- The bill maintains a definition of core academic subjects that includes the arts. While not leveraged effectively in current law, “core academic subjects” appear in several key locations in the bill (see below).
- The bill makes clear that Title I funds can be used for arts education. Specifically, Title I says that funds can be used for “programs, activities and courses in the core academic subjects”. As mentioned above, the term “core academic subjects” includes the arts.
- The definition of core academic subjects appears in several other programs, thereby allowing these programs to have an arts education focus. For example, there is a new literacy program that allows for the integration of core academic subjects into literacy programing and as an approach in the definition of extended learning time for schools looking to extend the schools day.
- The bill authorizes the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program which includes the ability to provide children in afterschool and expanded learning time programs with programs and activities in the arts.
- The bill includes a new Safe and Healthy Students initiative that allows for grants to school districts to be used for well-rounded educational experience for students which may include the use...