On October 19, a crowd gathered on Capitol Hill to watch the markup of a new ESEA bill sponsored Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chair of the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). The co-sponsor is Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming.)
The bill aims to address the long-delayed reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary School Act. Chris Woodside, assistant executive director for advocacy and public affairs at the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) reported a two-hour wait in line at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, which led to a packed committee room. Attendees expected a session where committee members would debate, amend, and rewrite the proposed legislation. The bill has 144 proposed amendments.
Woodside posted a report on NAfME Groundswell: “Chairman Harkin and Republican Senator Mike Enzi gave their opening remarks, reminding those in attendance of the failures of NCLB, the need to do away with AYP, and the importance of returning education policy authority to the states and building capacity to provide America’s students with ‘well-balanced’ education experiences,” Woodside said.
“For music education advocates, this was actually the highlight of the markup, as Chairman Harkin specifically referenced “music and the arts” as subject matter areas that he wished to see benefit from passage of the new bill. A hopeful sign, indeed,” he added.
Soon after “hope” gave way to what Woodside termed “a bizarre scene.” After several procedural challenges as to whether the markup should even take place, Harkin adjourned the meeting abruptly.
The NAfME Advocacy Staff will continue to follow the bill’s status and provide updates on NAfME Groundswell.
—Roz Fehr, October 20, 2011. © National Association for Music Education (nafme.org)