Discussions of ESEA Reauthorization Begin Anew on Capitol Hill

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was due to be reauthorized by Congress in 2002, but consensus has been hard to achieve in Congress, and nine years later the law remains unchanged.

Reauthorization has been back in the news as the Obama Administration discusses plans to waive some of the law’s most stringent requirements, including the goal that every student be proficient in math and reading by 2014 or have their schools face sanctions. Many U.S. governors support such waivers.

In the past two weeks, Congress also weighed in. Five U.S. Senators— Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Russell Burr of North Carolina, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, and Mark Kirk of Illinois—released five legislative proposals related to ESEA.

NAfME Advocacy staff members are meeting with legislators on Capitol Hill to discuss ESEA developments. Follow the issue on Groundswell. ESEA reauthorization is of interest to music educators because as currently written the law defines the arts as a core subject. It also says the arts play a significant role in children’s development and learning process.

Despite the recent ESEA discussions, with the budget wrangling in Congress this year and the launch of the 2012 election season, many observers say it appears unlikely that both houses will pass comprehensive reform this year or next.


ESEA legislation

Roz Fehr, September 22, 2011. © National Association for Music Education (nafme.org)