arts education publications

Congressional Findings in Support of Arts Education

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), originally passed in 1965, is the most significant federal law in support of K-12 education.  It is periodically "re-authorized," often under new names.  In the fall of 2001, the 107th Congress re-authorized the act under the name, "No Child Left Behind Act of 2001."  The final law is the "enrolled bill" version of H.R. 1.  (Search under "legislation," then by bill text, then by bill #--H.R. 1--, and then choose the last option—the enrolled bill).

In Title IX of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, under General Provisions, Part A-Definitions, Sec. 9101, item number 11, there is a list of core subjects that includes "arts."

(11) CORE ACADEMIC SUBJECTS- The term 'core academic subjects' means English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography.

The U.S. Congress does not have authority to determine core subjects for local school districts but includes the designation of such subjects as a show of support and to guide Department of Education grant makers and applicants in terms of eligibility for funds, unless more specifically directed.

There is also a section of the Act that deals specifically with arts education (Title V, PART D, Subpart 15, Section 5551).  This offers rhetorical support for any of your efforts on behalf of arts education and will offer a little funding for a cultural partnerships program.  Any general education programs can be used to support arts education, because arts education, when offered seriously, is good education.

After the 2001 bill, you will find the 1994 language in support of arts education and, after that, information about arts education month as designated by Congress.

To close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so that no child is left behind. (Enrolled Bill (Sent to President))


  1. PURPOSES- The purposes of this subpart are the following:
    1. To support systemic education reform by strengthening arts education as an integral part of the elementary school and secondary school curriculum.
    2. To help ensure that all students meet challenging State academic content standards and challenging State student academic achievement standards in the arts.
    3. To support the national effort to enable all students to demonstrate competence in the arts.
  2. AUTHORITY- The Secretary is authorized to make grants to, or enter into contracts or cooperative agreements with, eligible entities described in subsection (c).
  3. ELIGIBLE ENTITIES- The Secretary may make assistance available under subsection (b) to each of the following eligible entities:
    1. State educational agencies.
    2. Local educational agencies.
    3. Institutions of higher education.
    4. Museums or other cultural institutions.
    5. Any other public or private agencies, institutions, or organizations.
  4. USE OF FUNDS- Assistance made available under this subpart may be used for any of the following:
    1. Research on arts education.
    2. Planning, developing, acquiring, expanding, improving, or disseminating information about model school-based arts education programs.
    3. The development of model State arts education assessments based on State academic achievement standards.
    4. The development and implementation of curriculum frameworks for arts education.
    5. The development of model inservice professional development programs for arts educators and other instructional staff.
    6. Supporting collaborative activities with Federal agencies or institutions involved in arts education, arts educators, and organizations representing the arts, including State and local arts agencies involved in arts education.
    7. Supporting model projects and programs in the performing arts for children and youth through arrangements made with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
    8. Supporting model projects and programs by Very Special Arts which assure the participation in mainstream settings in arts and education programs of individuals with disabilities.
    9. Supporting model projects and programs to integrate arts education into the regular elementary school and secondary school curriculum.
    10. Other activities that further the purposes of this subpart.
  5. SPECIAL RULE- If the amount made available to the Secretary to carry out this subpart for any fiscal year is $15,000,000 or less, then such amount shall only be available to carry out the activities described in paragraphs (7) and (8) of subsection (d).
  6. CONDITIONS- As conditions of receiving assistance made available under this subpart, the Secretary shall require each entity receiving such assistance--
    1. to coordinate, to the extent practicable, each project or program carried out with such assistance with appropriate activities of public or private cultural agencies, institutions, and organizations, including museums, arts education associations, libraries, and theaters; and
    2. to use such assistance only to supplement, and not to supplant, any other assistance or funds made available from non-Federal sources for the activities assisted under this subpart.
  7. CONSULTATION- In carrying out this subpart, the Secretary shall consult with Federal agencies or institutions, arts educators (including professional arts education associations), and organizations representing the arts (including State and local arts agencies involved in arts education).

1994 Version of ESEA

The 107th Congress that passed the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 chose to take out all language regarding congressional "findings," but the 1994 version of the bill passed by the 103rd Congress included strong language in support of arts education.  In the 103rd Congress the act was called the "Improving America’s School Act of 1994" (H.R. 6).

Improving America's Schools Act of 1994 (Enrolled Bill (Sent to President))

Title X


Subpart 1--Arts Education


  1. FINDINGS- The Congress finds that--
    1. the arts are forms of understanding and ways of knowing that are fundamentally important to education;
    2. the arts are important to excellent education and to effective school reform;
    3. the most significant contribution of the arts to education reform is the transformation of teaching and learning;
    4. such transformation is best realized in the context of comprehensive, systemic education reform;
    5. demonstrated competency in the arts for American students is among the National Education Goals;
    6. participation in performing arts activities has proven to be an effective strategy for promoting the inclusion of persons with disabilities in mainstream settings;
    7. opportunities in the arts have enabled persons of all ages with disabilities to participate more fully in school and community activities;
    8. the arts can motivate at-risk students to stay in school and become active participants in the educational process; and
    9. arts education should be an integral part of the elementary and secondary school curriculum.


On June 30, 1999, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) introduced a resolution to designate March as Arts Education Month.  The Senate passed the resolution on March 2, 2000 which includes language supportive of arts education.  The Congressional Record carried the text of the resolution:

(Senate - March 02, 2000)
[Page: S1156]

The resolution with its preamble is as follows:

S. Res. 128

Whereas arts literacy is a fundamental purpose of schooling for all students;

Whereas arts education stimulates, develops and refines many cognitive and creative skills, critical thinking and nimbleness in judgment, creativity and imagination, cooperative decision-making, leadership, high-level literacy and communication, and the capacity for problem posing and problem-solving;

Whereas arts education contributes significantly to the creation of flexible, adaptable, and knowledgeable workers who will be needed in the 21st century economy;

Whereas arts education improves teaching and learning;

Whereas when parents and families, artists, arts organizations, businesses, local civic and cultural leaders, and institutions are actively engaged in instructional programs, arts education is more successful;

Whereas effective teachers of the arts should be encouraged to continue to learn and grow in mastery of their art form as well as in their teaching competence;

Whereas the 1999 study, entitled "Gaining the Arts Advantage: Lessons from School Districts that Value Arts Education", found that the literacy, education, programs, learning and growth described in the preceding clauses contribute to successful district wide arts education;

Whereas the 1997 National Assessment of Educational Progress reported that students lack sufficient opportunity for participatory learning in the arts;

Whereas educators, schools, students, and other community members recognize the importance of arts education; and

Whereas arts programs, arts curriculum, and other arts activities in schools across the Nation should be encouraged and publicly recognized: Now, therefore, be it
The Senate--

  1. designates March 2000, as "Arts Education Month" ; and
  2. encourages schools, students, educators, parents, and other community members to engage in activities designed to--
    1. celebrate the positive impact and public benefits of the arts;
    2. encourage all schools to integrate the arts into the school curriculum;
    3. spotlight the relationship between the arts and student learning;
    4. demonstrate how community involvement in the creation and implementation of arts policies enriches schools;
    5. recognize school administrators and faculty who provide quality arts education to students;
    6. provide professional development opportunities in the arts for teachers;
    7. create opportunities for students to experience the relationship between participation in the arts and developing the life skills necessary for future personal and professional success;
    8. increase, encourage, and ensure comprehensive, sequential arts learning for all students;
    9. honor individual, class, and student group achievement in the arts; and
    10. increase awareness and accessibility to live performances, and original works of art.