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Arts Education Highlighted As Federal Education Reform Begins

Arts education advocacy has had an exciting few weeks in Washington!  Several times this month leaders in Congress expressed concern and raised questions about the future of arts education with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.   Secretary Duncan has appeared before several Congressional committees to speak about education funding and federal reform efforts.  We need to build on this momentum by raising these concerns in the broader public forum, like your local newspapers.

The questions to Secretary Duncan come at a critical time for arts education:  The president’s budget proposal calls for the federal arts education program to be consolidated with non-arts-specific education programs; Secretary Duncan has introduced a “blueprint” for reauthorizing education policy and has released new federal grants to spur reforms. However, all around the country, including in North Carolina, we see arts education being challenged, reduced, and in many cases, being dropped from local school budgets.

In the past few weeks on Capitol Hill:

House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt, based on questions posed by arts education leaders in his congressional district, asked Secretary Duncan about whether the arts were being put on the “backburner.”

Senate Education Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) said that, “Not every kid’s brain is wired for math and science and engineering…some are more artistic, more creative, in music and in the arts…”  and questioned Secretary Duncan about how arts education will be supported within the White House’s new education “blueprint.”

House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-WI) during the Secretary’s testimony on his FY 2011 budget request brought up his personal interest in music and how providing the arts in schools can help keep students who might drop out otherwise engaged.

Secretary Arne Duncan responded each time that he has consistently heard about the “narrowing of the curriculum” during his trips around the country and how that the Administration is committed to strengthening arts education opportunities in the future.

Americans for the Arts is preparing a major effort this year to support arts education in upcoming education reform initiatives and funding.  As part of our outreach timeline, we ask that you take action now by taking two minutes to visit our E-Advocacy Center and send a customizable letter to your local news outlets supporting arts education both in your community and at the federal level.

Next on the calendar is National Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, DC on April 13, where we will be calling on arts education advocates from around the country to contact their members of Congress on these very same issues.

Help us continue this important work by becoming an official member of the Arts Action Fund.  If you are not already a member play your part by joining the Arts Action Fund today — it’s free and simple.

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