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Behind the Curtain

Your Assistance Needed in Contacting Congress
By Susan McGreevy-Nichols
Posted on 7/28/2015 2:11 PM

congressATTENTION ALL NDEO MEMBERS... 

 

Your help is needed, but first let me share the good news received from some of our partnering arts organizations the other day. On July 16, 2015, the U.S. Senate passed its bipartisan Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization proposal, the Every Child Achieves Act (S.1177), by a margin of 81 to 17. Under this legislation, the "arts" are recognized as a core academic subject and would receive their rightful place in the main instructional day.

 

The Americans for the Arts, along with more than a dozen national arts education organizations were approved by the Senate education committee to define the "arts" to include dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts. These art disciplines are now eligible due to their inclusion in the National Core Arts Standards. As the over 4 to 1 Senate vote indicates, there is huge bipartisan support for dance and the arts.

 

All of our previous work with the Americans for the Arts, Arts Advocacy Day, and the National Core Arts Standards has positioned the National Dance Education Organization to help lead this charge. This is a giant leap forward for the field, as the Senate hasn’t considered K-12 education legislation since the passage of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act in 2001.

 

There is a similar bill, H.R. 5, that has passed the House of Representatives. Because of these two separate bills, the two bills must go to a Conference Committee where the differences between the two bills are worked out. Make no mistake, S.1177 is the better of the two bills and should be used to strengthen the House bill in the Conference Committee.

 

When the provisions of S.1177 become law it will have far-reaching, unprecedented implications for the field and fuel our work immensely. If dance is cemented as a core academic subject, dance teachers and programs will be eligible for federal education funding, such as Title I, teacher training, and school improvement grants. This support would include funding for after-school programs and extended learning.

 

Please join the National Dance Education Organization and other arts entities to support the final passage of this bill. You can help by contacting your local Member of Congress, through phone calls and letters, and urging them to vote for the S.1177 version of the two bills.

 

When contacting your individual member of Congress, please ask to speak to the person in the office who handles education issues. Please ask him or her to tell their boss to vote for the S.1177, the Every Child Achieves Act, when it comes to the House. When calling your member of Congress please emphasize the importance of dance education and 21st century goals of life learning and skills.

 

To find your member of the House go to http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/#altcontact. Once you find your member, call 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to the Representative’s office. Again, please ask to speak to the person in the office who handles education issues. You can also get a direct phone number for the Representative’s office from their website.

  

Once you make your phone calls, please follow up with a letter to your member of Congress. Letters may be sent to:

 

Rep (INSERT NAME HERE)

United States House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515

 

The others arts disciplines have already sent thousands of letters. It’s time for our voice to be heard through phone calls and letters! Please send your letters to Capitol Hill and include your stories of how dance has impacted your students and school. Also visit, www.ndeo.org/howtoadvocate for statistical data and other NDEO advocacy tools. There is no greater, more opportune time than NOW.

 

NDEO thanks you in advance for your efforts, and there will be more important work to do in the coming months as the final bill is worked out in Conference Committee.

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