We participated with the combined NAfME delegation in the morning rally (see NAfME's video here). We then visited Senator Lamar Alexander and Senator Bob Corker's offices, and met with staffers in the offices of Representatives Phil Roe, Jim Cooper, and Steve Cohen, as well as with Rep. Cohen himself. Each office received materials outlining NAfME's policy priorities, recent TMEA publications, and a set of letters prepared by the C-NAfME representatives from constituents detailing the impact music education has had in their lives.
The focus of the advocacy work for Hill Day was on encouraging full authorized funding for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in the fiscal year 2018 budget. ESSA was passed in late 2015 with broad bipartisan support and was intended to allow states and districts to have much greater control over the usage of federal education dollars. Among the asks were $1.6 billion for Title IV, Part A, which is designed to be a formula-based block grant that provides funding for well-rounded educational initiatives, school safety, and technology. At last year's $400 million level of funding, many states reverted to using the funds through competitive grants, meaning many districts will not have access to this support. The president's proposed budget did not include any funding for Title IV, Part A. The level recommended by the House Appropriations Committee this week is $500 million. Another ask was for funding for Title II, Part A, at the originally authorized amount of $2.3 billion, to support professional development. The president's budget and the recent recommendations of the House Appropriations Committee would not provide any funding in this area.
Our delegation was encouraged by the positive reception we received from each of the staffers we met with and the general consensus regarding the bipartisan values reflected in ESSA. TMEA will continue to monitor the budgetary process and follow up on the work of Hill Day throughout the coming year.