NAfME Expresses Deep Concern and Disappointment with FY17 Funding Level for ESSA’s Title IV Block Grant
The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) is deeply disappointed in Congress’ decision to appropriate only $400 million for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant program, otherwise known as Title IV, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Funding SSAE at $400 million, which is a nominal fraction of its ESSA authorization level of $1.65 billion, endangers the program’s long-term success and will not allow schools to make meaningful investments in critical areas of need, such as providing a “Well-Rounded Education,” which includes music. By appropriating such a diminutive level of funding, states now have the option to allocate their SSAE funds through a state-level competitive grant, opposed to formula, which undermines the flexibility that Congress had originally intended for states and districts.
After the short sightedness of policies created by “No Child Left Behind,” the signing of ESSA marked a positive step forward for all students across the nation, focusing on what makes a student whole by embracing the intrinsic value of a “Well-Rounded Education.” The SSAE program, which was created through bipartisan support, embodies this fundamental value, and NAfME was thrilled with the SSAE grant program’s potential to provide students with greater access to music education. By failing to fund this program at appropriate levels, many school districts will be left to make unconscionable and constrained decisions, while others will have no supplemental federal funding to support a well-rounded education, as promised by Title IV of ESSA.
NAfME urges Congress and the Administration to ensure that Title IV is fully funded in future appropriations. SSAE must receive its fully authorized level of funding in FY18, and must be implemented as a formula program, as intended by its Congressional authors. Otherwise, Congress and the Administration will fail to provide our nation’s students with a well-rounded course of study that they desperately need for academic success.
Ronny Lau, Public Policy Advisor, May 1, 2017. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)