meprESEA: In mid-July, after an exciting seven days of debate, with over 178 amendments filed in the Senate and 50 amendments filed in the House of Representatives, both chambers of Congress were able to pass each of their versions to reauthorize the “Elementary and Secondary Education Act.” Most exciting, is that the Senate’s version contains “music” and “arts” as core academic subjects, moving an important step toward addressing the national problem of our narrowing curriculum that has taken place under ESEA’s last iteration, No Child Left Behind.
Because the House and Senate have passed two different versions of ESEA, the two chambers will be forming a conference committee to hash out differences and find an acceptable compromise before sending the bill to the President for his signature. NAfME has a full recap of the week long deliberation available here.

Higher Education Act, HEA: Although finalized discussions for ESEA have yet to be concluded, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will start moving their attention to the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. The Committee announced a hearing to begin discussion of the bill on August 5. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chairman of the HELP committee, stated that the hearing will focus on “the status of student success at American colleges and universities and how to improve it.”

A Win for Rhode Island Music Education: Music education not only experienced a win at the federal level, but another milestone has been reached in Rhode Island! Thanks to a bill sponsored by the Rhode Island Music Education Association (NAfME affiliate), Rhode Island lawmakers recently passed legislation designed to increase student access to band, chorus, orchestra, and other performing ensembles by encouraging these disciplines to be offered at all middle and high schools. The bill was signed into law on July 10 by Governor Gina Raimondo, heightening a historic step for music education in the State. More information on this recent advancement can be found on Rhode Island NPR.

Visual and Performing Arts Standards Bill Moves to California State Assembly: In other positive news, California’s State Assembly begins its review of the Visual and Performing Arts Standards update in committee. The bill, SB 725, is sponsored by the California Music Educators Association (NAfME affliate), and would update the State’s Visual and Performing Arts Standards (VAPA) to more closely align to the core curriculum and integrated 21st century career skills. The bill passed the State Senate in June and looks to move to the Assembly for final deliberation before it arrives at the Governor’s table for signature. More information on the bill can be found on CMEA’s website.