Starting on July 7th, the Senate is expected to take up the Every Child Achieves Act (S.1177), and the House may also soon vote on its version of reauthorization, the Student Success Act (H.R. 5).
The Senate education committee unanimously passed its bill in April. The long-awaited and bipartisan bill is ready to be considered on the Senate floor, where more amendments will be considered, including a bipartisan amendment offered by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) that would encourage states to measure and publicly report on disparities in student access to educational resources, which could include the arts.
There are a number of direct ways your Senators can help ensure the arts are taught in school and accessible to every child, but they need to hear from you. Ask them to support these pro-arts provisions already in the Senate bill, including:
- Retaining the arts as a core academic subject. Federal education funding (such as Title I, teacher training, and school improvement grants) are targeted to core academic subjects, and as such, the arts are an eligible expenditure of these funds.
- Creating a literacy and arts education program. This provision was added by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) with the support of Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Susan Collins (R-ME). Under its provisions, it allows grants to promote arts education for disadvantaged students.
- For school improvement and initiatives like Turnaround Arts, the bill requires reporting and urges proficiency in core academic subjects to aid student achievement and learning. For example, in the Targeted Assistance School Program, school plans must include a description of how the program will serve participating students, including by using resources "such as support for programs, activities, and courses in core academic subjects" to help meet academic standards.
- Afterschool programs. Despite being stricken in the introduced version, the committee reinstated the popular 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. This reinstatement amendment was offered by Sen. Murkowski (R-AK) and cosponsored by Sens. Al Franken (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). This program supports afterschool, out-of-school programs and expanded learning time in schools, and serves over 1.6 million children.
Thank you for helping make sure your representatives remember that the arts are essential and part of a complete education.
Let us know if you have questions. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will keep this page updated on the progress of this comprehensive legislation, and you can read more about the Senate legislation via our blog.
Thank you for your support of the arts and arts education!