ESEA Bill Clears Markup—On to the Senate



It was touch and go for a while, but at the end of the committee markup on June 12, the language that lists “music” within the Well Rounded funding pot was still there.  For music educators, this was particularly good news.

A week earlier, on June 4, Senator Tom Harkin (Iowa), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, had introduced the Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013, a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), and replace No Child Left Behind (NCLB). On July 11 the HELP committee gathered for markup of the bill.

According to “committee markup” is a meeting of an entire committee to debate and consider amendments to a measure under consideration. The markup determines whether the measure pending before a committee will be recommended to the full Senate, and whether it should be amended in any substantive way.

On June 11 Senator Harkin said, “… Our actions today are crucial and long overdue—the last reauthorization of this law expired in 2007. With this markup, we have the opportunity to improve on the lessons of the past and ensure a brighter future for our children and the nation.”

After two days of vigorous debate on various amendments, some of which passed and some which did not, the HELP committee voted to “report” the Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013 to the Senate.

At the markup’s conclusion, Harkin and Senator Lamar Alexander, the ranking Republican on the HELP committee, each praised the other for thoughtful debate on amendments that offered sharp differences but were discussed in a civil manner. Both said they believe they have a good framework for moving forward.

Christopher Woodside, Assistant Executive Director, Center for Advocacy & Public Affairs for the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), attended Tuesday’s markup. He said, “there were no major changes to the original Harkin bill passed the Committee [June 11] today.”


Woodside also noted that HELP did reject these amendments –

  • By Senator Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) to substitute his own bill (S. 1101)
  • By Senator Michael B. Enzi (Wyoming) to rewrite the accountability provisions in Title I
  • By Senator Richard Burr (North Carolina) to eliminate 17 programs in the Harkin bill (including the new Well Rounded funding program that specifically enumerates “music”)
  • By Senator Alexander to eliminate teacher evaluation provisions and current Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT) provisions, and
  • By Senator Scott to revise the 1% and 2% standards/assessments for students with disabilities and to limit the Secretary’s authority to approve/disapprove state standards.


Woodside, who Tweeted from the proceedings, said the Amendments which were accepted were –

  • Senator Harkin’s to restate that Title I requirements do not apply to states that do not take Title I money,
  •  Senator Patty Murray’ (Washington) to require reporting on new subgroups of military-connected children
  • Senator Kay R. Hagan (North Carolina) to encourage extended learning time in priority schools, and
  • Senator Al Franken (Minnesota) on dual enrollment.


Another issue that echoed through some of the amendments was the question of how involved the federal government should be in schools. Some argue the U.S. Department of Education should not mandate how state school boards and school districts conduct their business.

Woodside described markup proceedings on Tuesday as “lively” and said there were more than 200 education lobbyists in the room. “It was jammed, standing room only,” he said.

He added that “I can’t stress strongly enough what a ‘win’ it is that the “music” language survived the day.”

NAfME has an active lobbying presence on Capitol Hill,  but on June 28, the association’s leaders will have the opportunity to speak with an even louder voice on behalf of  music education.

Woodside noted that more than 130 NAfME leaders from throughout he United States will participate in NAfME’s annual “Hill Day.” Their meetings with elected officials on Capitol Hill will take on  more urgency this year.

With ESEA legislation moving forward, “We will have a very specific ‘ask’ for them to take into their meetings on Hill Day. They will be right in the thick of things this year,” Woodside said.


NAfME leaders prepare for their visits to Capitol Hill


Roz Fehr,  NAfME Managing Editor for News, June 12, 2013. © National Association for Music Education