Title IV, Part A
In the passage of ESSA, Title IV represented a significant return of federal education funding to local decision making (see Senator Alexander's perspective here and Senator Corker here). Part A establishes Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants. These are intended to be distributed by states to every district in a block grant model. The most recent Tennessee ESSA State Plan commits to providing each district with at least $10,000 to be used as the district chooses to support Well-Rounded Educational Opportunities, Safe and Healthy Students, and Effective Use of Technology. Well-Rounded Educational Opportunities include "improving access to foreign language instruction, arts, and music education," "promoting community and parent involvement in schools," and providing "additional resources for
libraries and librarians, arts and music education." These represent the primary areas of federal funding available for the growth of music programs.
Current Budget Process
In the passage of ESSA, Title IV, Part A, is authorized at an annual level of $1.6 billion. In the fiscal year 2017 budget, it was only funded at $400 million. This resulted in many states having to allocate funding on the basis of a competitive grant process, which greatly disadvantages rural districts and those without extensive capacity for grant writing and runs counter to the legislation's intention of local control.
President Trump's proposed fiscal year 2018 budget included $0 funding for Title IV, Part A. Seeking full authorized funding was a major talking point for TMEA during NAfME's Hill Day last month. Last week, the House Appropriations Committee released its FY2018 proposal, which includes $500 million in Title IV, Part A funding, a small increase from last year's budget, but half of the $1 billion in funding proposed by the same committee last year.
The Senate Appropriations Committee, which includes Tennessee's Lamar Alexander, who sponsored ESSA, has not yet finalized its budget for the Department of Education. Following the action of the appropriations committees, the budget will move to consideration by both houses of Congress.
Call to Action
A move to fully fund Title IV, Part A, would represent an addition $23 million in funding for Tennessee's schools to be used to support local programs. Please consider contacting your house member and both Senator Alexander and Senator Corker to voice your opinion on this facet of the federal budget. Consider emphasizing the bipartisan support that passed the ESSA and its return of local control over federal education funds and share your personal passion and the importance of music education in your school and community.