Remarks submitted by
Jonathan Katz, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
National Assembly of State Arts Agencies

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Reauthorization Meeting
Washington, DC
January 20, 2010

Good afternoon.

My name is Jonathan Katz. I am CEO of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) and I speak on behalf of the state and territorial arts councils of the United States. While state arts agencies do not make education policy or operate schools, we all employ arts education managers who have statewide arts education leadership and advocacy responsibilities. Our staff and volunteer leaders work to influence education decisions at the state and local levels, where 93% of public education money is allocated. In addition, we directly support arts education with about a third of the grants we make. In a recent year, we supported school-community partnerships, teacher improvement, instructional evaluation and assessment activities, and a host of other projects in nearly 3,000 communities.

  • In Title IX, General Provisions, Section 9101, Part A – Definitions, we endorse retaining the arts in the definition of core academic subjects of learning. In addition to iterating the General Provision that arts education activity is appropriate for funding in federal grant categories, federal recognition that learning in the arts is basic to the education of all students is tremendously influential at the state level.

  • Title V, Subpart 15 – Arts in Education, Sec. 5551: Assistance for Arts Education, we endorse the inclusion of "other public or private agencies, institutions, or organizations" as entities eligible to receive federal funding for the wide range of activities enumerated in the following subsection (d). This provides the Department of Education with the option to draw upon the resources of state, regional and local arts agencies, as well as the broad not-for-profit community, to advance the quality and availability of arts education.

    In particular, we urge reauthorization of the Model Development & Dissemination Program in the Arts. We think this program is well designed to support exemplary arts education projects in which a school system realizes substantial and lasting benefits, as well as to promulgate similar activities in other school systems. Furthermore, this category has demonstrated its ability to attract the participation of state arts agencies (Mississippi Arts Commission and Tennessee Arts Commission), leveraging commitment to arts education by state government and statewide.

  • We recommend three leadership activities on the part of the U.S. Department of Education that we are confident will contribute to public understanding of and support for the inclusion of arts education in the curriculum as a means to improve overall education nationwide.

    1. The Secretary of Education should support arts education through public statements and policy actions that confirm the value of the arts and arts education. The Secretary and the Title I Director should encourage schools to provide the benefits of arts education to students from disadvantaged circumstances and those needing remedial instruction.

    2. Similarly, Department of Education leaders should encourage schools to use Title II funds to provide arts teachers with professional development, and to partner with cultural, arts and other not-for-profit organizations, as part of their efforts to prepare, train and recruit high quality teachers and principals.

    3. The Department of Education should maximize the impact of the direct federal investment in arts education by disseminating information about the outcomes of projects funded by the Arts in Education grant programs. More than a hundred national groups now participate in the Arts Education Partnership, which represents a well-established collaboration between the Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Arts, and is comanaged by the Council of Chief State School Officers and NASAA; that coalition can certainly help share what is learned about the value and effective implementation of arts education.

As discussions on the reauthorization of ESEA proceed, we urge consideration of the law's potential unintended consequences on arts education. In the past, these unintended consequences have diminished the presence of arts education in our schools.

Finally, we urge Department of Education leaders to consider and give voice to the special value of arts education in addressing our nation's catastrophic drop-out rate. Though a substantial body of research documents the advantages students who study the arts sustain over students who do not*, the obvious truth is that students drop out because their individuality is not valued, they do not believe they have the talent to succeed, and the people who are supposed to support them are not engaged. Arts education learning and performance addresses each of these factors as well as or better than any other part of the core academic curriculum. Arts education should be an area of investment; reduction of resources for arts education is contributing to a national tragedy. Our leaders should say so.

Thank you, on behalf of the state and jurisdictional arts agencies of the United States, for the opportunity to speak to you today and to submit remarks.

*From Critical Evidence (National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, 2006), copy submitted as part of testimony:

  • High school students who take arts classes have higher math and verbal SAT scores than students who take no arts classes. (Source: 2005 College-Bound Seniors: Total Group Profile Report, The College Board, 2005, Table 3-3.)
  • Drama can be an effective method for developing and improving reading comprehension and narrative writing skills.(Sources: Page, Anita (2002), "Children's Story Comprehension As a Result of Storytelling and Story Dramatization: A Study of the Child as Spectator and Participant," and Moore, Blaine H., and Helen Caldwell (2002), "Drama and Drawing for Narrative Writing in Primary Grades.")
  • The association between music and mathematics achievement is demonstrated by research findings that students who take music classes in high school are more likely to score higher on standardized math tests. (Source: Vaughn, Kathryn (2002), "Music and Mathematics: Modest Support for the Oft-Claimed Relationship.")
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