Against the backdrop of the U.S. Capitol, the “Title IV, Part A Coalition” held a press event last week on the U.S. Capitol Grounds highlighting the urgency and importance of fully funding the Student Success and Academic Enrichment Grants (SSAEG), an education funding program authorized in Title IV, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
Earlier in March, the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) joined as a founding member of the Coalition, in response to the potential underfunding threat for SSAEG. Despite being the third largest authorized program within ESSA, the President’s recent budget proposal for FY 2017 recommends $500 million for SSAEG, which is less than one-third of the authorized level of $1.65 billion.
Rallying together to advocate for the full funding of Title IV, Part A, several organizations and key speakers were featured as part of the event. Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA-05), who served as the keynote speaker, has been a champion for SSAEG funding and had some fantastic things to say about music and arts education.
Photo courtesy of the Office of Congresswoman Clark (D-MA-05)
“Last year when this law was being drafted, many of you fought hard to protect critical resources for students around the country—including support for school psychologists, social workers, and counselors, trauma-informed practices, well-rounded music and arts education, and equal opportunity for all students to pursue STEM careers, regardless of their gender, race, or background. All of these priorities are now supported by Title IV-A.”
In addition, Congresswoman Clark noted these funds ensure:
“boys and girls get an early, robust, sustained education in science, technology, the arts and math so that they are prepared to pursue their dreams in 21st century economy.”
Music Represented on the Hill
Also featured as a speaker for the event was Brian Schneckenburger, Fine Arts Coordinator of the Baltimore City School District. As a NAfME member and instrumental school teacher of thirteen years, Schneckenburger advocated the importance of fully funding SSAEG and how it affects students within his own school district.
Photo: Ronny Lau, NAfME
“Under this proposed funding level, school districts, such as mine, would not be able to make meaningful investments into critical areas of need, like music and arts programs.”
In addition, under the direction of Ms. Robin Paige, the Press Event was opened and closed by two amazing performances by the Western High School Choir of Baltimore, Maryland.
Photo courtesy of the Office of Congresswoman Clarke (D-MA-05)
The Coalition also released individual letters from state and local education groups in Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Washington, addressed to Senators Blunt, Murray, and Alexander and Representatives Cole and Kline, that praise Title IV, Part A and seek appropriate funding for the program. NAfME would like to thank all five of our state-affiliates who signed onto these letters, which includes:
- Minnesota Music Educators Association
- Missouri Music Educators Association
- Oklahoma Music Educators Association
- Tennessee Music Education Association
- Washington Music Educators Association
Ronny Lau, Legislative Policy Advisor, Center for Advocacy, Policy, and Constituency Engagement, May 23, 2016. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)