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Yesterday, the House Education and Workforce Committee voted to approve HR 1891, the resolution sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) that terminates the authorization of 43 U.S. Department of Education programs, including the Arts in Education program. This bill marks the first attempt at reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), popularly know of late as “No Child Left Behind.” The Committee is promising to move several like pieces of legislation in the coming months toward remaking ESEA.
The Arts in Education program is invaluable to many communities across the country as it funds not only professional development opportunities for arts educators in high-poverty areas, but it also provides money to model programs that support “the enhancement, expansion, documentation, evaluation, and dissemination of innovative, cohesive models that demonstrate effectiveness in: integrating into and strengthening arts in the core elementary and middle school curricula; strengthening arts instruction in those grades; and improving students’ academic performance, including their skills in creating, performing, and responding to the arts.”
I attended the markup session and worked with staff from both parties to oppose termination of the Arts in Education program.
During consideration of the measure, Reps. Rush Holt (D-NJ), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Susan Davis (D-CA), and David Wu (D-OR) sponsored an amendment that would amend HR 1891 to support a “well rounded education” and give the Secretary of Education the ability to fund arts education, foreign language, and history programs if so desired (You can view Rep. Holt’s introduction of the amendment below). The language in the amendment reflected the Democrat’s strategy to instruct the Secretary to support the slated program’s activities instead of directly asking for restoration of specific programs. The amendment was defeated by a 16-23 party line vote. All Democratic alternative proposals were defeated.
The measure could go to the full House for a floor vote soon, so we will continue to work with House and Senate education leaders to determine if the legislation has any traction as Congress continues to work on all the many pieces of ESEA reauthorization.