NAFME Advocacy Staff Looks Ahead to a New Year in Congress


On January 17, President Barack Obama a bipartisan $1.1 trillion spending bill. The final 72-26 vote in the Senate averts any remaining threat of a government shutdown through Sept. 30, 2014.

Chris Woodside, assistant executive director, Center for Advocacy & Public Affairs for the National Association for Music Education, said the bill funds all discretionary federal programs (including education through the end of the current fiscal year.

He said the bill, which he sai has some flaws “is generally good news for education, restoring many programs’ funding close to pre-sequester levels and including significant increases for early childhood education. In particular:

  • The new law contains $67 billion for the Department of Education’s discretionary programs, approximately $811 million less than in the 2012 fiscal year, the last year that Congress passed a final spending bill.
  • Formula grants, including Title I, were favored in the bill. Title I programs are funded at $14.3 billion, close to pre-sequester levels.  Impact Aid and IDEA state grants are also funded close to pre-sequester levels; $1.3 billion and $11.5 billion respectively.

Woodside said the bill “clearly supports early childhood education programs.”  In the Department of Health and Human Services, Head Start would get $612 million above sequester levels, and Early Head Start would be expanded by $500 million.

In addition, a Race to the Top set-aside of $250 million is provided to develop and enhance pre-K programs for four-year-children.

The new law also restores funding for the Arts in Education program at the Department of Education to $25 million, a slight increase above its pre-sequester level in FY 2012.

Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, praised the spending bill’s focus on early learning. “The funding announced today makes critical investments in early learning because we know that learning begins at birth and preparation for learning begins before birth,” Harkin said. “We took a thoughtful approach to funding these critical programs because this bill funds America’s priorities; it is the bill in which we invest in our future.”

Woodside said the Association is pleased that the bill focuses on early childhood education, because NAfME strongly supports inclusion of music education as that level.

NAfME staff will also follow closely any movement to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Since its initial passage in 1965, ESEA has been reauthorized seven times, most recently in January 2002 as the No Child Left Behind Act.

The House of Representatives passed its version of NCLB, while a bill sponsored by Harkin has not yet reached the Senate floor.

Understand the two pieces of legislation

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