ESEA and Title I

What is ESEA?

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provides national funds for primary and secondary schooling.  It was signed into law by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965.  The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is the current reauthorization of ESEA.


What is Title I?

Title I (“title one”) is the section of ESEA that distributes funds to schools with high percentages of students from lower socio-economic households.


Title I and Music Education

Support for music education is absolutely an allowable use of Title I funds under the current iteration of ESEA.  In a 2009 letter, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan articulated that “Title I, Part A of ESEA funds arts education to improve the achievement of disadvantaged students.”  Unfortunately, though, the language of the bill that speaks to this does not expressly articulate it as such, (it chooses to speak of funding purposes from a 40,000 ft. level), and so NAfME spends a great deal of time on Capitol Hill working to create clarity on this very issue.

The purpose of the Title I is “to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high quality education” (Title I Sec. 1001).  The Title I policy further establishes that programs using Title I funds shall “[implement] school-wide reform strategies that…strengthen the core academic program in the school” (Title I Sec. 1114(b)) and “help provide an accelerated, high-quality curriculum, including applied learning” (Title I Sec.1115(c)).  As components of a quality arts education program, these elements support the suitability of using Title I funds to allow students fair and equal access to an arts education.  While there is no explicit mention of music education, music is defined as one of the four disciplines that make up the “arts”–a core academic subject under ESEA.


Pending 2013 ESEA Reauthorizations

Currently, three competing bills have been offered.  In this Education Week article, author Alyson Klein compares the three proposals. Klein notes that while all three proposals move away from NCLB’s emphasis on Annual Yearly Progress, the bills differ on their approaches to issues such as teacher evaluation and how to improve low-performing schools.  The chart at the bottom of Klein’s article offers a succinct comparison of how each bill addresses these and other important topics.

Each bill addresses music and the arts differently:

– Senator Harkin’s bill, the “Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013,″ endorses the concept of funding a well-rounded education for all students, specifically mentioning music.  It also mentions arts education in reference to specific programs, including 21st Century Learning, Expanded Learning Time, and programs that encourage involvement for all students, including those with disabilities

– Representative John Kline’s (R-Minnesota) bill, the “Student Success Act,” articulates Title I support for the arts, incorporates all core subjects (including the arts) in school turnaround provisions, adds “art and design” into the definition of STEM, cites the arts as an eligible activity for Extended Learning Time, and maintains current “Arts in Education” grant funding program in “well-rounded” section

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