By Dani Brown, Arts Education Special Projects Coordinator –
On Thursday, December 10, Robert L. Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts (AFTA) attended the signing of the Every Student Succeeds Act by President Obama. The lead sponsors in the Senate were Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash, and in the House were Reps. John Kline, R-Minn., and Bobby Scott, D-Va. It passed the House 359-64 and the Senate 85-12.
“This new law hold great promise for restoring arts education as central to the school day and in the lives of students and our nation’s future workforce,” wrote Lynch in an AFTA Arts Action News eletter.
Every Student Succeeds replaces the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act—a law that concentrated on a few academic subjects and left out others such as the arts.
Over the past year, AFTA and over 87 other arts and arts education organizations have advocated for strengthening arts education. A national petition to the members of Congress netted in almost 20,000 signatures calling for support of more arts in education.
A blog posted on December 2 by Narric Rome and Ms. Kate O. McClanahan provided a list of what is in the Act for Arts Education. Visit the blog to read the details, but here is a quick overview of the new provisions included in the Act that support Arts Education:
1. Support for Well-Rounded Education – The new bill is clear in its support for well-rounded education, which is defined, and includes the arts.
2. Funding for Arts Education – The Act includes key, dedicated, and distinct authorization to promote arts education under a new program, Assistance for Arts Education
3. Reporting – The Act is required to report on how much (or how little) arts education is being offered to our nation’s students.
4. STEAM – The Act includes support to schools that integrate academic subjects, including the arts, into STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) courses.
5. Continued authorization for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers – The Act continues authorization for this program that supports after-school, out-of-school, and expanded learning time in schools.
6. Accountability for lower-performing schools – States continue to be required to improve student learning within the lowest-performing five percent of their schools.
7. Testing & Standards – Each state will have full control of the “challenging academic standards” within their state, which is how new arts standards are developed.
8. Teachers – Including arts educators as eligible for professional development support.
9. Grants directed to Alaska Native organizations – The arts are listed as an activity that increase graduation rates and assist students in meeting challenging state academic standards.