6/24 Update: The House Appropriations Committee today approved a labor, health and education spending bill for 2016 by a vote of 30-21. It remains uncertain as to when the bill will come to the House or Senate floor for full approval.
Yesterday, the Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee approved the FY2016 Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations bill. The Subcommittee has released a summary of the bill, indicating the bill would fund the Department of Education at $65.5 billion, a $1.7 billion cut decrease from FY2015. The bill reduces education funding to $5 billion bellow the President’s request level.
Of the $1.7 billion of Department of Education programs cut and eliminated, here are some of the essential initiatives which affect Music Education:
- Preschool Development Grants – Eliminated – These grants, which help expand access to preschool for low and moderate income four year old children, has been eliminated. In FY2015, 250 million was appropriated for the program, which sought to support state efforts to offer high quality public preschool. FY2015 funding supported 18 states via these grants, which served and help fund 177,000 children to receive high quality preschool.
- School Improvement Grants – Cut by 11% – This program funds by formula to states to help turnaround their lowest performing schools. Democrats have estimated that the $56 million in cuts (11%) would impact 50 schools from receiving these grants, approximately affecting 30,000 students.
- Pell Grants – $300 million rescinded – Although the bill maintains the $22.5 billion in discretionary spending for Pell Grants in Fiscal Year 2016, it would rescind $300 million that is needed to support the program, as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
- The bill in addition cuts $29 million from Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants and $40 million from Federal Work Study, both of which help low and moderate income college students and their families cover high education costs.
- 21 Century Community Learning Centers – Cut $117 million – This program supports the creation of community learning centers that provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools. This includes helping students meet and local student standards in core academic subjects, which includes music and arts education.
Some brighter spots of the bill include:
- Arts in Education – Level Funding – This program helps integrate and strengthen arts in core elementary and middle school curricula, has maintained its level funding from FY15. These grants are also designed to enable local education agencies (LEAs) and state organizations with arts create and further develop materials for the replication or adaptation of current comprehensive approaches for integrating a range of arts disciplines-such as music, dance, theater, and visual arts, including folk arts-into the elementary and middle school curricula.
- IDEA State Grants – Increased $100 million – IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, has received an overall $100 funding increase, which includes $10 million in Preschool grants, and $15 million for grants for infants and families.
It is uncertain when this bill may move towards the floor for further action. What is certain is that the current language and cuts within this bill will negatively impact not only our students, but music education programs all around. NAfME will continue to provide updates and maintain a close eye on this bill.
Ronny Lau, Special Assistant, Center for Advocacy and Constituency Engagement, June 24, 2015. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org).