The US House of Representatives passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act conference report last night, December 2, 2015, by a strong vote – 359 to 64. The Senate is expected to take the bill up next week.
This bill is a big win for arts education. Specifically, this bill would:
- Define the arts as a “well-rounded” education activity/subject.
- Explicitly allow Title I funding to be used for the arts and other well-rounded activities and subjects.
- Explicitly allow professional development funding under Title II of ESEA to be used to benefit arts teachers.
- Explicitly allow after school funding through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program to specifically be used for the arts.
- Ensure that the arts are an allowable use of funds under the new Student Support and Academic Enrichment State and local school district grant program.
A successful amendment to the conference report by Rep. Bonamici (D-OR) also allows states to integrate other subject areas, including the arts, into STEM programs.
These additions make it more explicit that the $17 billion in Federal ESEA funding can be used to support the arts and provide arts education. While we will follow up in the comings days and weeks about what this means for grantees, other nonprofits, and schools systems, this creates a significant opportunity to expand access and success with the arts through Federal education funding. Thank you for all your support in this work.