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Thursday, September 2, 2010

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Legislative Update

Senate Panel Boosts Arts Ed Funding

NASAA Legislative Counsel Thomas L. Birch

The House and Senate were in recess for the month of August. Senators and representatives will return to Washington on September 14 to resume legislative work.

Before breaking for the August recess, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2011 funding for the U.S. Department of Education, setting appropriations for the arts in education grants at $42 million. The program is currently funded at $40 million, the same level set by the House appropriations panel in drafting its version of the money bill. The Senate committee has called on the Department of Education to support the evaluation and national public dissemination of information regarding model programs and professional development projects funded through the Arts in Education section, including dissemination of information regarding the results of projects that received awards in fiscal years 2001 and 2002, and in subsequent years.

Action by both the House and Senate panels rejected the budget proposed by the Obama administration to fold the $40 million currently allocated for the arts education program into a pool combined with other non-arts grant programs to create a new funding bloc of $500 million for innovative education programs, though with no guarantee how much support would go for arts education. NASAA and other arts education advocates had urged Congress to designate funding for the Education Department's arts education grants separately in the FY2011 appropriations bill, and to consider any changes in program configuration in the context of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act next year.

Keep abreast of current congressional news and federal legislative updates, and be sure to take advantage of NASAA's arts advocacy tools and services.