On May 25, 2011, The U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved the first in a series of education reform bills designed to “revamp” current Education and Secondary Education law. The Setting New Priorities in Education Spending Act (H.R. 1891) terminates 43 existing federal education programs, including Arts in Education. The Arts in Education program currently funds 57 active education projects around the country, and to date has supported more than 210 competitive grants serving students in high-need schools, as well as the affiliates of the Kennedy Center and VSA arts education programs.
The Arts in Education program also provides critical federal leadership in supporting a well-rounded curriculum throughout our nation’s public schools.
HR 1891 passed by a vote of 23 to 16, and efforts to restore some of these programs by Americans for the Arts, who worked with Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and other members of that committee in making the amendment, failed.
Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Chairman John Kline (R-MN) said, “It’s time to weed out the programs that aren’t working and focus on initiatives that lead to real success in the nation’s classrooms.”
Along with arts in education, these repealed programs related to: improving literacy through school libraries, preventing dropout, special education teacher training, mentoring and counseling programs, and grants to improve the mental health of children.
Cuts to the federal funding of the arts are all too common, but HR 1891 aims to eradicate chances for financing of these programs. This impending threat brings up the question of what role the federal government has in supporting the arts.
The full House of Representatives may vote on HR 1891 prior to their August Congressional Recess. The Senate education committee, however, is not expected to consider HR 1891 as Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) plans on offering a separate, more comprehensive bill to reauthorize the Elementary & Secondary Education Act.
Contact your House Representative through our customizable e-alert and request that they oppose HR 1891 because it seeks to terminate the critical federal support directed to arts education. Don’t let this bill narrow the curriculum of our students.
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