Arts Included As "Core Academic Subject" In New Education Bill
Source: Arts Wire CURRENT, a project of Arts Wire, a program of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) -- http://www.nyfa.org
WASHINGTON, DC -- After four years of deliberation, in December 2001, the bipartisan education act NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND passed by an overwhelming majority in both houses of Congress. The bill, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush on January 8, 2002, includes the arts in the definition of "core academic subjects".
The Reading First initiative, a central component of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, (H.R.1) encourages states and local schools to establish reading programs based in scientific research for all children in kindergarten through Grade 3. Federal funding for reading programs will be tripled from $300 million in FY2001 to $900 million in FY2002.
The new bill will also require states to issue annual report cards on school performance and statewide results; authorize $400 million to help states design and administer tests for students in grades 3 through 8 in the basic subjects of reading and math; provide state and local flexibility for states and local school districts in the use of federal education funds; give parents of children in failing schools the option to transfer their child to a better-performing public or charter school or allow federal Title I funds to be used to provide supplemental education services such as tutoring, after-school services and summer school programs; and this year invest almost $3 billion in improving teacher quality while asking states to put a highly qualified teacher in every public school classroom by 2005.
"There's no greater challenge than to make sure that every child -- and all of us on this stage mean every child, not just a few children -- every single child, regardless of where they live, how they're raised, the income level of their family, every child receive a first-class education in America," President Bush, who made education reform one of his top priorities when he took office in January 2001, told students at Hamilton High School in Hamilton, Ohio where he signed the bill.
"This is the most important reform of federal education laws in 30 years," said Representative George Miller, (D-CA) Senior Democrat, House Education and the Workforce Committee. "This bill will make a concrete difference for our schools. For the first time in federal law, we set a goal of eliminating the harrowing achievement gap between disadvantaged students and their more affluent peers that has plagued our educational system for decades."
Emphasizing that the bill has "unprecedented targeting of federal dollars on those students who need it most, it requires qualified teachers in the classroom, it provides substantial new resources, and it sets bright lines for what we expect our students and schools to achieve," Miller pointed out that the bill also provides for an expanded after-school program, greater support for technology programs, and an expanded reading program, including a new pre-kindergarten reading program.
Miller also noted that while President Bush made education a priority, he failed to request any significant increase in funding to back up his broad outline for reform. Miller worked with other lawmakers to ensure that Congress provide a significant increase in real funding.
Key supporters of the bill included, among many others, Senator Robert Byrd, (D-WV) Sen. Thad Cochran, (R-MS) Sen. Tom Harkin, (D-IA) Sen. Jim Jeffords, (I-VT) Sen. Edward Kennedy, (D-MA) Sen. Ted Stevens, (R-AK) Sen. Arlen Specter, (R-PA) Representative Cass Ballenger, (R-NC) Rep. Mike Castle, (R-DE)Rep. David Obey, (D-WI) Rep. Ralph Regula, (R-OH) and Rep. Louise Slaughter. (D-NY)
"'CORE ACADEMIC SUBJECTS' MEANS ENGLISH, READING OR LANGUAGE ARTS, MATHEMATICS, SCIENCE, FOREIGN LANGUAGES, CIVICS AND GOVERNMENT, ECONOMICS, ARTS, HISTORY, AND GEOGRAPHY." - H.R. 1
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 defines the term "core academic subjects" as meaning English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography.
Emphasizing that the arts being given equal billing with reading, math, science, and other disciplines in this definition is a "huge improvement in national education policy," The American Symphony Orchestra League explains that "This means that whenever national education programs (such as teacher training, school reform, and technology programs) are targeted to 'core academic subjects,' the arts may be eligible to receive federal funds. Such a broad recognition of the arts has never before been included in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act."
"The new education bill is a step in the right direction, by recognizing arts education as `one of the core academic subjects'. However, there is too much emphasis on standardized tests as the primary benchmark for success. The new legislation extends the Goals 2000 federal legislation which recognized the arts as part of every child's education," said Hollis Headrick, Executive Director of The Center for Arts Education in New York City.
"It is encouraging that federal education grants linking schools to cultural organizations will be available again following the release of last summer's RFP from the Department of Education, (funds appropriated under the Clinton administration)" Headrick continued. "Taken in total, I hope this legislation is a strong indication that the arts are being valued as a serious and rigorous area of study."
ASSISTANCE FOR ARTS EDUCATION
For the arts, an important section of the bill is "Assistance for Arts Education". (section 5551) Arts advocates worked hard to ensure the inclusion of this section which enables the U.S. Department of Education to support arts education in competitive grant programs. Direct support for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and VSA arts (Very Special Arts) is also included.
As stated in No Child Left Behind, the purposes of Assistance for Arts Education are: "To support systemic education reform by strengthening arts education as an integral part of the elementary school and secondary school curriculum"; "To help ensure that all students meet challenging State academic content standards and challenging State student academic achievement standards in the arts"; and "To support the national effort to enable all students to demonstrate competence in the arts."
Entities eligible for Department of Education grants are defined as state educational agencies; local educational agencies, institutions of higher education; museums or other cultural institutions; and any other public or private agencies, institutions, or organizations."
Funds available under Assistance for Arts Education may be used for projects which include:
_Research on arts education; Planning, developing, acquiring, expanding, improving, or disseminating information about model school-based arts education programs;
_The development of model State arts education assessments based on State academic achievement standards; The development and implementation of curriculum frameworks for arts education;
_The development of model inservice professional development programs for arts educators and other instructional staff;
_Supporting collaborative activities with Federal agencies or institutions involved in arts education, arts educators, and organizations representing the arts, including State and local arts agencies involved in arts education;
_Supporting model projects and programs in the performing arts for children and youth through arrangements made with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; Supporting model projects and programs by Very Special Arts which assure the participation in mainstream settings in arts and education programs of individuals with disabilities;
_Supporting model projects and programs to integrate arts education into the regular elementary school and secondary school curriculum.
According to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) and the American Symphony Orchestra League, recently approved FY02 funding for the U.S. Department of Education places a total of $30 million for arts in education within the Fund for Improvement of Education, and designates $6 million for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, $8.65 million for VSA arts, $2 million for professional development for music educators, $4 million for cultural partnerships for at-risk youth, and $2 million for the media literacy campaign, leaving $7.35 million in unspecified funding.
THE 21ST CENTURY COMMUNITY LEARNING CENTERS PROGRAM
The 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program, which provides grants for before-school, after-school, and summer learning, will now accept applications from community-based organizations.
Eligible entities are now defined to include not only local educational agencies as primary recipient, but also community-based organizations, other public or private entities, or a consortium of two or more of such agencies, organizations, or entities.
Rather than issuing grants to local school districts directly from the federal level, the program will now be allocated to each state to administer. The program is authorized to $1,250,000,000 for fiscal year 2002.
As defined by H.R.1, 21st Century Community Learning Centers:
_"provide opportunities for academic enrichment, including providing tutorial services to help students, particularly students who attend low-performing schools, to meet State and local student academic achievement standards in core academic subjects, such as reading and mathematics";
_"offer students a broad array of additional services, programs, and activities, such as youth development activities, drug and violence prevention programs, counseling programs, art, music, and recreation programs, technology education programs, and character education programs, that are designed to reinforce and complement the regular academic program of participating students";
_"offer families of students served by community learning centers opportunities for literacy and related educational development."
NATIONAL ARTS SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS WORK TOGETHER TO PRODUCE GUIDE TO NEW LAW
"Advocates' persistence in communicating with Congress and the White House over the years has paid off. Thanks to letters, testimony, research, and strong local education programs, national policymakers have recognized the value of supporting arts education opportunities for all children," Heather Watts, Director of Government Affairs, American Symphony Orchestra League, emphasizes in articles on the NASAA and League Websites.
Among significant challenges, the League notes that the law delegates increasing authority to state education agencies to determine exactly how federal funds are spent. And, schools will now be required to test students in grades three through eight every year in math and reading, with low-performing schools facing serious penalties.
"This high-stakes emphasis on reading and math may create a challenge to arts education opportunities," they caution. "With these changes in place, 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."
National arts service organizations, including NASAA and the League, are working together to produce a complete guide to the new education law, with specific examples of how artists, schools, parents, teachers, community organizations and policymakers can work together to increase local support for arts education. The guide is expected be available on the Web in a few months.
NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND --
US Department of Education No CHILD LEFT BEHIND WEB SITE -- http://www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/esea/
"Congress Passes Long-Awaited Education Act;
Arts Education Wins Support"
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF STATE ARTS AGENCIES -- http://www.nasaa-arts.org
AMERICAS FOR THE ARTS -- http://www.artsusa.org -- will kick off their new campaign highlighting the importance of arts education to our nation's kids kicks off in the winter of 2002
"...the arts should be considered core subjects in our
nation's schools." - Secretary of Education Paige"
"THIS IS A TEST: Teens Create an Installation About
Standardized Testing - Mobius, Boston, MA"
"Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination Grant
Arts Wire (TM) is a program of the New York Foundation for the Arts.
Arts Wire CURRENT is a project of Arts Wire, a national computer-based network serving the arts community. Arts Wire CURRENT features news updates on social, economic, philosophical, and political issues affecting the arts and culture. Your contributions are invited. Contact Judy Malloy, Editor.
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