House Committee on Education and the Workforce Marks Up Republican ESEA Bill



On June 19, the House Education & the Workforce Committee marked up Chairman John Kline’s (R-Minnesota) new Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA) proposal – H.R. 5, the Student Success Act – ultimately voting on party lines to report the legislation to the U.S. House of Representatives, as amended. Also proposed during this markup was Ranking Member George Miller’s (D-California) substitute amendment, that included several provisions beneficial to arts education, but which was ultimately defeated, also on a party line vote.  A few of the key sections of the Miller legislation, which NAfME supported, are outlined below:

  • 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
  •  Maintains current “Arts in Education” grant funding program in “well-rounded” section

According to Chris Woodside, Assistant Executive Director, Center for Advocacy & Public Affairs for the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), the Kline bill “essentially combines several stand-alone bills that have been introduced by Kline in the recent past.”  He noted some key provisions in the Kline bill, highlighted on the Committee’s website:

  • The arts listed are listed as a core academic subject of learning.
  • Accountability systems, thereby returning authority for measuring student performance to states and school districts.
  • Repeals federal Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirements and directs states and school districts to develop teacher evaluation systems that measure an educator’s influence on student learning.  These evaluations must be locally developed and implemented within broad parameters that factor in student achievement, incorporate multiple measures, and include feedback from all stakeholders.
  •  Eliminates more than 70 existing elementary and secondary education programs to promote a more appropriate federal role in education (including Arts in Education).
  •  Consolidates myriad existing K–12 education programs into a new Local Academic Flexible Grant, which provides funding to states and school districts to support local priorities that improve student achievement.

Woodside said the timing of today’s events in the House were not mere coincidence. The House markup took place just one week after the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee marked up the Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013, a Democratic bill to reauthorize ESEA in the Senate.  HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) introduced that bill.

As we reported at that time, at the conclusion of the Senate markup, important language enumerating “music,” for the first time ever, within a new well-rounded funding pot, was still in place. For music educators, this was particularly good news, Woodside said. Neither of the House proposals, however, contained that language.

Woodside said there was great interest in the House bill, and in the Miller substitute amendment. Last week Harkin and Senator Lamar Alexander (Tennessee), 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. The House debate on the legislation and amendments was a bit more pointed, but still respectful.

He also said NAfME would continue to monitor the progress of both bills and lobby to protect any and all provisions that benefit music education, in whichever legislation ultimately emerges from conference (reconciling the House and Senate bills) [hopefully, later this year].

“Only through a true conference process can we know for certain where Congress will ultimately land in the final architecture of its new federal ‘footprint’ for music. In short, we’re going to need to ‘hurry up and wait’ before making our case again when it comes to the House,” Woodside concluded.

For music education advocates, this is still more progress on the ESEA front than they have seen in well over a decade.  On June 28th,  NAfME delegates from state associations and members of The Music Education Policy Roundtable will head up to Capitol Hill to discuss recent developments on the ESEA front, and to make music education’s case for inclusion in any final incarnation of the legislation.

This year, perhaps more than ever before, advocates will have a real opportunity to be a part of the process and truly influence federal education policy. What happens next is a bit hard to predict, but one thing is for certain – NAfME will continue leading the music education advocacy charge during this important next phase in ESEA discussions.


Read earlier NAfME coverage

Watch NAfME videos

NAfME’s Chris Woodside Discusses Senate ESEA Reauthorization Bill  


Roz Fehr, NAfME Managing Editor for News, June 19, 2013. © National Association for Music Education