Signed into law in December 2015, the ESSA demonstrates a new and clear intent to support arts education in our country. This is an exciting shift from previous federal legislation, because it specifically enumerates music and the arts as integral parts of a “Well-Rounded Education.”
As we celebrate and prepare for the implementation of ESSA in 2017, there are many moving pieces coming into place at all levels! Thankfully, the act clearly defines the logistics of district participation, including the creation of a Committee of Practitioners to work within the schools. The Iowa Department of Education has been working under a transition plan for the current school year, but used the fall season to gather ESSA resources and plan ahead. In a series of 9 meetings throughout Iowa communities, public input was sought and shared. Iowa has also mobilized a State Advisory Committee representing K-12 education stakeholders and has been actively consulting representatives of education associations, state legislators, and the greater community. They continue to draft components of the state plan to make sure that Iowa school children have access to this groundbreaking federal support of music as an integral component of their Well-Rounded Education!
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Ask your local school administration what steps are being taken to bring the support of the ESSA to your community schools. Volunteer to be on your district ESSA committees, and make sure that the message reaches administrators, parents and teachers. Discuss involvement of other committees in the implementation as well (S.T.E.A.M. Council and PTA, for example). Even though the newly defined ESSA funds will not come to schools until the 2017-2018 school year, the time to assess needs and plan for budget requests is now!