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ESEA Reauthorization

NAEA has been carefully monitoring the status of activities in the US Congress relative to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
What follows is an update regarding the status of the draft legislation from the Senate and the House of Representatives. Each chamber has now voted a version of ESEA Reauthorization out of committee for consideration by the full Senate and House of Representatives.  

Status of Senate Action on ESEA Reauthorization:
The Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions ) Committee met over the course of three days this week to complete its markup of the Senate HELP Committee’s new version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) entitled “Every Child Achieves Act of 2015.” Led by committee chairman Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and ranking democratic committee member Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the HELP Committee unanimously passed the bi-partisan rewrite of ESEA legislation out of committee. The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 will now move to the Senate floor for consideration, debate, and potentially a full vote by the Senate. Floor consideration is expected to take several weeks, and is tentatively scheduled for mid-May.  

The discussion at the hearings focused on changes, called amendments, which individual Senators serving on the HELP Committee wanted to see in the markup. In general, as the Committee met for over ten hours to discuss dozens of proposed amendments, the concerns were primarily in these areas: Use of Title 1 funds, testing, special needs students, helping students in high poverty areas, the burden of data collection on the states, and state level authority for making decisions in education vs. the federal role.  

There was no discussion of the core subjects during these hearings or reinstating specific discretionary grant programs of the U.S. Department of Education which have been recommended for elimination as part of the markup, including elimination of the Arts in Education grant programs and other programs, including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. Recordings of the hearings from April 14, 15, 16 are available on the Senate HELP Committee website at

Within this new version of ESEA, the list of core subjects has been retained. Being a core subject legally provides the opportunity for grant applicants to include the arts in all funding programs. There have been additions to the list. The wording in this version is as follows:

CORE ACADEMIC SUBJECTS.—The term ‘core academic subjects’ means English, reading or language arts, writing, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, geography, computer science, music, and physical education, and any other subject as determined by the State or local educational agency."

It is important to note that this list within federal legislation, even when/if adopted, is not a state or local mandate. Determination of core subjects at the state and local levels are up to those jurisdictions.

Status of House Action on ESEA Reauthorization:
On February 11, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Congressman John Kline (R-MN) passed HR5 “Student Success Act”, its proposed version of ESEA Reauthorization. The full House has not taken action on the bill. This bill is significantly different than the Senate’s “Every child Achieves Act.”  

Once both houses of Congress have voted favorably for both bills a conference committee is convened to iron out the differences and result in one bill to move forward for the President to sign.

It is not too late to contact your elected representatives to encourage their support for inclusion of arts education in any education reform bill:

1. Retain the arts in the 'core academic subject' definition.
2. Retain arts education as an eligible use of Title I funds - the largest portion of federal assistance for disadvantaged students.
3. Include specific new language to include arts educators as eligible for Title II professional development support.
4. Include arts education as a priority in any proposed local competitive grant program.
5. Retain the federal Arts in Education program, which has supported over 200 model grant programs over the last decade. 6. Retain the 21st Century Community Learning Center after-school program, which supports arts education.

All members of Congress will be voting on the ESEA Reauthorization legislation. For a list of the committee members from each chamber, go to the Senate HELP Committee website at and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce at  

NAEA works collaboratively with all of the arts education professional associations and national arts associations engaged with monitoring arts and education policy and federal appropriations for arts education. The items cited in the list above center NAEA policy objectives around the Arts Advocacy Day arts education issues briefs including ESEA Issues Brief (see bottom of page), which serve as NAEA’s underlying policy documents regarding reauthorization and represent the consensus policy objectives of over 85 national organizations, including NAEA.

House Vote On ESEA Postponed To This Week -- Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Due to the Congressional activity focus on the Homeland Security Administration budget, the House of Representatives postponed their vote on ESEA scheduled for Friday, February 27. Here is a link to an article explaining the status of House action at this time. On the Senate side, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) are working closely to draft a bipartisan ESEA reauthorization bill. Chairman Alexander recently announced plans to mark up the bill in the Committee sometime in March. (National Law Review, 3/2/15). Also note ESEA Issues Brief and Recommendations prepared for Arts Advocacy Day

House to Vote on Proposed Changes to ESEA on Friday, February 27. The following Arts Action Alert has been issued today relative to proposed changes to ESEA, and an anticipated vote by the House of Representatives now scheduled for tomorrow, February, 2015. The Senate is expected to begin its work on ESEA in March and vote the end of March or early April 2015.


House to Vote on Proposed Changes to ESEA on Friday, February 27.
The following Arts Action Alert has been issued today relative to proposed changes to ESEA, and an anticipated vote by the House of Representatives now scheduled for tomorrow, February, 2015. The Senate is expected to begin its work on ESEA in March and vote the end of March or early April 2015.

- See more at:

Legislative Update: New Congress Begins to Move Forward on ESEA Reauthorization - NAEA Collaborates on Creating Arts Education Sector Strategies (Updated 1/30/15). As the new Congress begins its work after the first of the year, NAEA has been meeting weekly with colleagues from national arts and arts education associations to create strategies for arts education advocates to communicate with elected officials about the reauthorization of ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act). The first real action in some time regarding reauthorization came on January 21 when Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the new chairman of the Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions ) Committee issued his personal markup of the current legislation.  Subsequently, Alexander convened two hearings on January 20 and 27 to hear invited testimony about testing from education researchers and the impact of the legislation from school administrators.  A date for the pubic to provide feedback was set with a quick turnaround of February 2.
With the changes in Congress following the November elections the leadership and members of Congressional committees have changed, so new leadership comes into the legislative process.
There are significant impacts for arts education in Senator Alexander’s markup. The following link provides details:

The most significant impacts for arts education are:
1) Deletes the definition of "core academic subjects," which includes the arts! (Being a core subject legally provides the opportunity for grant applicants to include the arts in all funding programs, including the use of Title I funds for arts education, as one example);
2) Terminates the $1 billion 21st Century Community Learning Center after-school program, which supports arts education;
3) Terminates the small, but mighty, federal Arts In Education program which has supported over 200 model grant programs for over a decade;
4) Omits indicators of student access to the arts as part of annual state reporting (example is New Jersey's report) that help identify the equity gap.
NAEA is part of the leadership team currently writing the annual Congressional Issues Briefs on ESEA Reauthorization and Arts in Education Funding Through the U.S. Department of Education. These briefs will be finalized within the next week. However, this is a very fluid situation and new information or developments in reauthorization may come to light at any time over the months ahead. The issues briefs will be posted on the NAEA website once they are made public.
If you are planning to come to Washington, DC for Arts Advocacy Day (March 23 and 24, 2015), please let NAEA know.  NAEA is a co-sponsor of Arts Advocacy Day.

Sign On to the National Arts Education Advocacy Statement, Arts Education: Creating Student Success in School, Work, and Life. The Arts Education Working Group, a coalition of national arts and arts education advocacy organizations including the National Art Education Association (NAEA), invites state and local organizations to join the movement to keep the arts in public schools by signing-on to a statement in support of arts education: Arts Education: Creating Student Success in School, Work, and Life.
This statement communicates the benefits of arts education to policymakers at all levels.  As federal lawmakers engage in the process of reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also known as No Child Left Behind), there may be uses for the document in ongoing work at the local and state levels.

The strong connection between federal law and what students actually learn while they are in school necessitates a coordinated action.  The messages outlined in Arts Education: Creating Student Success in School Work and Life communicate the benefits of arts education not only to senators and members of congress, but also to school board members, superintendents, and principals. This statement provides talking points for individuals and organizations that want to make change in Washington and at home. Advocates are encouraged to use the statement when talking with local education decision-makers, share it with friends and parents, and post this link to their Facebook page. You can find the Unified Statement on this page here.

This 2013 paper is an update of the 2007 unified statement, which was endorsed by more than 60 national organizations, representing a cross-section of stakeholders in federal education policy, including teachers, parents, administrators, schools, education policymakers, corporations, artists, and arts and community based institutions. The statement has been refreshed to reflect new research and policy.

If you would like to add your state or local organization's name to those already supporting Arts Education: Creating Student Success in School, Work, and Life, please e-mail Najean Lee, League of American Orchestras,

National Associations Collaborate on Resources for Understanding and Promoting the Arts in ESEA Reauthorization and Appropriations Efforts. NAEA is an active and ongoing collaborator in working with all of the other national arts and arts education associations engaged in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, referred to in the most recent legislation as No Child Left Behind).

Through participation in the Arts Education Legislative Working Group, NAEA has partnered with Americans for the Arts, the League of American Orchestras, MENC, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), Arts Education Partnership, Educational Theatre Association (EdTA), National Dance Education Organization (NDEO),  National Dance Association, State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SEADAE), as well as the American Association of Museums, Dance/USA, the Kennedy Center, NAMM, OPERA America, Theatre Communications Group (TCG), VH1 Save The Music Foundation, and VSA to monitor national developments in the reauthorization (legislative) and appropriations (funding) processes.

The Arts Education Legislative Working Group enables all of the cultural associations to work together to strategize the best approaches for advocating for arts education and positioning opportunities for furthering a collective agenda for the arts throughout federal legislation. This work includes monitoring the reauthorization of ESEA as well as the appropriation levels for arts education in both U.S. Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Arts.  This also includes exploring other opportunities for the arts and arts education throughout federal agencies, with National Assessment Governing Board (oversight for the NAEP assessment) and the Corporation for National and Community Services as examples. This group also put together the NAEP Toolkit in conjunction with last year’s release of the 2008 NAEP Assessment findings.

The working group members have collaborated on developing and finalizing useful documents for understanding the status of reauthorization and appropriations. The most recent documents are provided below.

•    Arts in Education Appropriations Briefing Paper for Arts Advocacy Day 2013
•    ESEA Reauthorization Briefing Paper for Arts Advocacy Day 2013

ESEA Flexibility Brochure and Fact Sheets - February 2013. Available on the U. S. Department of Education’s website are a set of materials that provide a substantive overview of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility process—also known as ESEA waivers—by which 34 states and the District of Columbia have applied for and received flexibility regarding certain provisions of ESEA. The intent of these materials—a brochure and five companion fact sheets—is to explain the rationale and intent of ESEA flexibility, as well as address its key components and highlight plan elements for a number of states approved for flexibility. All of the documents can be easily printed and produced as front-to-back copies; the fact sheets are two-pagers, and the brochure is a tri-fold.
The brochure and fact sheets can be found on the Department’s updated ESEA flexibility web page.  Individual links to the documents are below:
"The Opportunity of ESEA Flexibility” (brochure)
“Protecting School and Student Accountability” (fact sheet)
“Advancing Accountability and Graduation Rates” (fact sheet)
“Continuing to Expose and Close Achievement Gaps” (fact sheet)
“Turning Around the Lowest-Performing Schools” (fact sheet)
“Supporting Teachers, Leaders, and Local Innovation” (fact sheet)

ESEA FLEXIBILITY - July 2012. Secretary Duncan recently announced that Washington and Wisconsin will receive flexibility from the burdensome mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).  In exchange for this new flexibility, the states have agreed to raise academic standards, improve accountability, and undertake essential reforms to boost teacher effectiveness.  This announcement brings the number of states with waivers to 26.  Eleven other applications are still under review.  Fourteen states have not yet requested a waiver through this process, but the Department expects more states to request Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility this fall. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO Meanwhile, the Department announced that seven states -- Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, and West Virginia -- may freeze their Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) for the coming school year, while they work on their waiver requests.  These states may use the same AMOs to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) determinations based on assessments administered during the 2011-12 school year that they used to make such determinations based on assessments administered during the prior school year.  Approval is based on the determination that this waiver is likely to increase the quality of instruction for students and improve the academic achievement of students by enabling states, school districts, and schools to devote resources to planning for the implementation of ESEA flexibility rather than devoting resources to respond to the growing numbers of schools and districts that would be identified for improvement as a consequence of escalating AMOs required by current law. In the interest of transparency and to help inform other states, the Department has posted at information on where states stand in the waiver process.

Department of Education Art Education Grant Programs (

Obama Administration Approves Seven More NCLB Flexibility Requests - 32 States and DC Now Approved for Waivers (

Ten Years of Arts Integration (

Arts Education video from the U.S. Department of Education (released 7/12/12)

Ten Years of Unleashing Creative Minds ( blog)

Obama Administration Approves Two More States For NCLB Flexibility – More Than Half of the Country Now Approved for Waivers, More to Follow (

Saluting Presidential Scholars: Remarks by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (

Obama Administration Approves Eight More States for NCLB Waivers (

Approved: Eight More States Get NCLB Waivers (

Coalition seeks more state autonomy in rewritten ESEA (The Hill/The Floor Action blog, 5/3)

Starting From Scratch With ESEA

'Secret Meeting' in South Carolina Held to Quash ESEA Waiver (April 20, 2012, Politics K-12 Blog)

The never-ending story of ESEA reauthorization (ASCD, Spring 2012)

Consensus Statement and Policy Recommendations for a Well-Rounded Education (released July 29, 2010)



























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