NAfME Endorses the Reimagining Inclusive Arts Education Act

By Zachary Keita, NAfME Advocacy and Public Policy Communications Manager

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) is dedicated to ensuring access to a well-rounded education for all students, regardless of ability or circumstances, that includes music, dance, theatre, and visual arts. In partnership with our state music education associations, we strive to advocate at all levels (local, state, and federal) for increased funding for music and arts education programs. NAfME supports advocacy done to expand access to an equitable well-rounded education and commends the work of the Georgia Music Education Association (GMEA) in assisting the development of the following legislation.

NAfME is proud to endorse the Reimagining Inclusive Arts Education Act (H.R.7261) , introduced by Rep. David Scott (GA-13) and developed in partnership with the Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA). Recognizing the benefits of arts education for children with disabilities, this legislation would provide grants to further train music and arts educators and arts therapists working with children with disabilities. Specifically, this legislation would direct the Secretary of Education to establish a new Inclusive Arts Education Grant Program that would provide:

  • States or districts funding to promote curricula, best practices, and professional development for arts educators and creative arts therapists to:
    • Increase access and improve inclusion of children with disabilities in arts education programs.
    • Adapt classroom materials and lessons to accommodate children with disabilities.
  • The bill also would define “Creative Arts Therapy” to specifically enumerate music as an available medium and highlight the social and emotional benefits of the arts.

The idea for this bill came from a 2023 Hill Day meeting between GMEA leaders and Rep. Scott’s staff on how federal funds support music education in Georgia. GMEA spoke with Rep. Scott’s staff to share the importance of Title IV funding in Georgia, highlighting the variety of ways funds can be used and citing the program as the most used for supporting music education in the state.

“Be persistent, and don’t hesitate to reach out to legislators! Even if you aren’t a direct constituent, it’s important to cast a wide net.”—Sara Womack, GMEA Advocacy Leadership Force, or ALF, Representative, on advocacy at the federal level

One of the many uses of Title IV in Georgia that GMEA highlighted was in Forsyth County, where funds are used to provide music/arts therapy for students with disabilities. Title IV funds in Forsyth were used to provide additional professional development for arts educators and creative arts therapists and adapt classroom materials and lessons for students with disabilities in the arts, allowing for increased access and participation in these programs. Following GMEA’s meeting with Rep. Scott, his office began drafting the Reimaging Inclusive Arts Education Act, which would establish a separate program within the U.S. Department of Education specifically focused on providing grants to support arts therapies for students with disabilities.

3 Strings Unlocked at 2019 NAfME conference

3 Strings Unlocked performs at 2019 NAfME conference in Orlando, Florida. Photo: Robb Cohen Photography & Video

If enacted, the Reimagining Inclusive Arts Education Act has the potential to broaden access to music and arts education and therapies for students with disabilities. By promoting specialized curricula, best practices, and professional development, this legislation would further equip arts educators and arts therapists to provide an inclusive and appropriate education. NAfME is proud to support the Reimagining Inclusive Arts Education Act. We look forward to working with members of Congress to pass this legislation. The full text of the bill can be found here.

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April 2024 Teaching Music

Published Date

February 14, 2024

Category

  • Advocacy
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access (DEIA)
  • Federal Advocacy & Public Policy
  • Special Education
  • State Advocacy & Public Policy

Copyright

February 14, 2024. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)

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