On Wednesday, May 18, the Title IV, Part A Coalition will be holding a press event 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). Of the many new “Well-Rounded Education” opportunities within the new ESSA, this new formula-funded block grant may be used in part to improve access to music education, and in turn, to support not only student success, but also the promotion of constructive student engagement, problem solving, and conflict resolution.
Potential for Underfunding, the President’s Budget
Despite being the third largest authorized program within ESSA, the President’s recent budget proposal for FY 2017 recommends $500 million, which is less than one-third of the authorized level of $1.65 billion. The President’s proposal has met with significant criticism, with opponents stating that underfunding of this block grant destroys SSAEG’s flexibility, and prevents districts and schools from receiving sufficient SSAEG funds to meaningfully invest in critical areas, which may include increased access to music education.
In response to this potential underfunding threat, NAfME joined as a founding member of the “Title IV, Part A Coalition,” an alliance of over 50 like-minded prestigious education groups that is working to urge Congress to fully fund this program.To find out more on NAfME’s involvement with the Title IV, Part A Coalition, please visit here.
Full funding for this program has already received a wide-range of bipartisan support from members of both the House and Senate. Representatives Bonamici (D-OR), Clark (D-MA), Curbelo (R-FL), and Stefanik (R-NY) co-led a Dear Colleague Letter calling for full funding of SSAEG, which was signed by over 60 members of Congress. Senators Baldwin (D-WI), Hatch (R-UT), Booker (D-NJ), Ayotte (R-NH), Franken (D-MN), and Collins (R-ME) also sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee that asked the committee to fund SSAEG at $1.65 billion in FY 2017.
Members of Congress and Stakeholders Speak to Press on Title IV
At the May 18th Press Event, the Title IV Coalition will release letters to key Congressional leaders from more than 85 state and local organizations demanding full funding for SSAEG. These letters follow a letter signed by more than 150 national, state and local non-profit organizations that urged House and Senate Appropriators to fully fund SSAEG.
The event will feature several key congressional speakers, including:
- Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
- Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-01)
- Congresswoman Catherine Clark (D-MA-05)
- Congresswoman Lucile, Roybal-Allard (D-CA-40)
The event also features several representations of the music and arts community. Brian Schneckenburger, who is the Fine Arts Coordinator for Baltimore City Public Schools, will be speaking at the event, advocating why these funds are so important to school music programs within his school district. Schneckenburger is also an NAfME member and former instrumental school music teacher. In addition, under the direction of Ms. Robin Paige, the Western High School Choir will be perform and open and close the event.
Ronny Lau, Legislative Policy Advisor, Center for Advocacy, Policy, and Constituency Engagement, May 18, 2016. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)