From Washington

Shelley Feist

Overhaul of Elementary and Secondary Education
President Bush on January 8 signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act, an overhaul of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The Act (Public Law 107-110) defines the core academic subjects as, "English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign language, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography." In general the Act strengthens the role of the state education agencies in determining exactly how federal education funds are spent. Schools will be required to test students in math and reading, with low-performing schools facing serious penalties. The emphasis on math and reading, above other core subject matter, could make hollow the arts in education goals of the legislation. In its online government relations report, the American Symphony Orchestra League advises members that, "it will be more important than ever that arts education advocates work with education policymakers at the local and state levels to take advantage of the new federal opportunities."

Arts in Education and Other Culture Provisions
Section 5551 of the Act, Assistance for Arts Education, provides for the secretary of education to make grants to, or enter into contracts or cooperative agreements with, state educational agencies, local educational agencies, institutions of higher education, museums or other cultural institutions, or any other public or private agencies, institutions, or organizations for purposes of "supporting a range of activities to support systemic education reform by strengthening arts education as an integral part of the elementary school and secondary school curriculum."

The Act continues support for arts in education programs of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Very Special Arts, and "holds harmless" their funding. If appropriations made available in any given fiscal year do not surpass $15 million, then only Kennedy Center and VSA arts in education activities could be funded.

Funding for Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Massachusetts
Section 5522 of the Act establishes a program in support of educational, cultural, apprenticeship, and exchange programs for Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and their historic whaling and trading partners in Massachusetts. This extensive program (authorized at a total minimum of $10 million) would provide $2 million or more in federal funds in any given fiscal year to each of: the New Bedford Whaling Museum, in partnership with the New Bedford Oceanarium in Massachusetts; the Inupiat Heritage Center in Alaska; the Alaska Native Heritage Center; the Bishop Museum of Hawaii; and the Peabody-Essex Museum in Massachusetts. The secretary of education is provided authority to make grants or contracts with these institutions, individually or in consortia.

Traditional American History
The Act includes a section authorizing establishment of the "Teaching American History Grant Program" that aims to "promote the teaching of traditional American history in elementary schools and secondary schools as a separate academic subject (not as a component of social studies)." Local educational agencies (LEA) are eligible to apply to the U.S. Department of Education and must work in partnership with one or more of the following: institutions of higher education, nonprofit history or humanities organizations, libraries, or museums. Congress has provided $100 million for grants in this area for fiscal year 2002. For more information go to the U.S. Department of Education Web site.

FY2002 Earmarks
Congress continued apace its practice of earmarking federal funds for cultural projects in the fiscal year 2002 funding bills. In the Interior appropriations bill, more than $30 million in direct earmarks went to a variety of heritage area, preservation, and cultural projects across the country. Beneficiaries in the Interior bill included the Anchorage Museum ($2.5 million), the Vulcan Monument in Alabama ($2 million), and the Denver Natural History and Science Museum ($750,000). Congress earmarked half of the $30 million allocated for the Save America's Treasures program, spreading $15 million among sixty-three projects including: Alaskan Moving Image Preservation Association ($500,000); Englert Theatre, Iowa, ($365,000); and the George Ohr Museum and Cultural Center, Mississippi ($425,000), to name a very few. Among the many cities benefiting from culture-related earmarks of the Housing and Urban Development Neighborhood Initiatives appropriations for FY02 are: San Francisco (Fine Arts Museum, $150,000), Fairbanks (expand Fairbanks Zoo, $1.5 million), Pocahontas, Arizona (Studio for the Arts, $300,000), Tucson (Fox Tucson Theatre and Archive project, $1 million), Culver City, California (theater renovation, $250,000), Bowie, Maryland (new concert hall, $375,000), and Torrington, Connecticut (Warner Theater renovation, $490,000).

President's FY2003 Budget
The federal commitment to culture remains strong in President Bush's Fiscal Year 2003 budget submitted to Congress on February 4. The request proposes $117 million for the NEA (up from $115 million appropriated in FY02), $127 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities (up from $124.5 million appropriated in FY02), and $29 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (up from $27 million appropriated in FY02). Other cultural institutions proposed for increases include the National Gallery of Art (13 percent increase), U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (9 percent increase) and the Smithsonian Institution (about 2 percent increase). The President proposed continuation of the Save America's Treasures program at $30 million.

Newly-Appointed NEA Head Dies; New Acting Chairman
Michael P. Hammond died suddenly in late January, just one week after he was sworn in as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Eileen B. Mason, who has served on the board of directors of the Montgomery County Arts and Humanities Council in Maryland, will serve as acting chairman until the White House and Congress can act to name a new chairman.

Technology Opportunities Program (TOP)
If Congress adopts wholesale the President's FY2003 budget for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the current fiscal year would be the last in which grants are made available to communities under the Technology Opportunities Program (TOP). The deadline for applying for an existing pool of $124 million in TOP grants is March 21, 2002. The Bush Administration has proposed elimination of the TOP program and a companion program, the Community Technology Centers program, which is funded through the U.S. Department of Education. The deputy director of the NTIA is quoted in The Washington Post February 5 as saying that TOP had "fulfilled its mission" and that in a time of national crisis, resources need to be devoted to national defense and other pressing priorities. NTIA is believed to be concentrating on ways to stimulate the rollout of high-speed Internet access and on managing spectrum allocation.

Folk and Traditional Culture in China
Peggy Bulger, director of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, and Barry Bergey, NEA, represented the United States December 18-20 at an international symposium sponsored by the Ministry of Culture of the Peoples' Republic of China. Underlying the conference was an apparent move on the part of the government of China to begin developing legislation that would assign intellectual property rights for Chinese cultural expressions including folk medicine, folktales, songs, dances, foodways, etc. A representative from the World Intellectual Property Organization was present.

Report on Venture Philanthropy
In January, Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP), a nonprofit social investment organization created by the Reston, Virginia-based Morino Institute in partnership with the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region and others, released Venture Philanthropy 2002: Advancing Nonprofit Performance Through High-Engagement Grantmaking. Prepared for VPP by Community Wealth Ventures, the report is resource for those working in what the VPP terms "high-engagement grantmaking" as well as those interested in learning more about philanthropy in general. The report emphasizes valuable lessons learned, and features comprehensive profiles of fifty national and international organizations involved in high-engagement grantmaking, along with a detailed analysis of survey data tracking trends in the field.