Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into law last Thursday, includes the arts alongside math and language arts in its definition of a "well-rounded education." That ensures that arts education programs and teachers are eligible to receive federal funds through provisions such as Title I, which supports disadvantaged students, and Title II, which supports teachers. 

Americans for the Arts isn't the only organization involved in arts education advocacy that's breathing a huge sigh of relief. In an article by Education Week published yesterday, Patricia Franklin, president of the National Art Education Association, said having the arts included in that definition is a "win." "It's important that language including the arts was not only maintained, but was specified in some cases. It's not marginalized as much."  

The arts also make appearances in other parts of ESSA. The new law offers funding specifically for integrating arts into STEM, and also includes a $20 million grant program for arts education, known as the Assistance for Arts Education grant program, which replaces a similar program from the No Child Left Behind Act. The Every Student Succeeds Act also gives states "more flexibility in how they allocate resources to low-performing schools and set accountability measures than before, which means arts education advocates will now be turning to states to ensure that federal funds actually make their way to eligible arts programs."

Our own vice president of government affairs and arts education, Narric Rome, was quoted in the article, saying "everyone understands the power that a definition had for the arts in No Child Left Behind. It allowed recognition for the arts in all the other titles ...Having a defined set of core subjects meant the focus shouldn't be just on reading and math because they have tests." 

Read Narric Rome and Kate McClanahan's ARTSBlog post from last week here