Arts in Education: Background and Legislation

Publication Date: January 2007

Publisher: Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service


Research Area: Culture and religion; Education



The "arts" are considered a core academic subject as part of the core curriculum for K-12 education, according to the Goals 2000 panel and as defined in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended. The federal program that supports integrating arts in the schools at the K-12 level is the Arts in Education program, authorized under the ESEA, as amended, and administered by the Department of Education (ED). This program provides grants for model projects that integrate the arts into school curricula. It has, in the past, given two major grants: one to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and one to the Very Special Arts (now VSA ARTS) program for children with disabilities. P.L. 106-554 increased funding from $11.5 million to $28.0 million for additional arts education grants in FY2001. In the 107th Congress, the Arts in Education program was considered under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA) (P.L. 107-110) as part of the reauthorization of the ESEA, and it remains a separate program under ESEA, Title V, Part D, Subpart 15.

The FY2006 appropriation for the Arts in Education program was $35.3 million. Both in FY2006 and FY2007, the Bush Administration proposed to eliminate funding for the Arts in Education program. The FY2007 Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHSED) Appropriations bill (H.R. 5647, H.Rept. 109-515), as reported by the House Appropriations Committee during the 109th Congress, would have provided no specific funding for the Arts in Education program. In contrast, the Senate Appropriations Committee-reported bill would have provided $36.5 million for Arts in Education for FY2007. This would have included $6.369 million for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts program, $7.44 million for VSA ARTS, and $7.936 million for professional development for music, dance, drama, and visual arts educators, a program to be administered by ED. It would also have included $13.755 million for the competitive art education model grants program and $1 million to continue evaluations and national dissemination of information regarding model programs and professional development.

The third continuing appropriations resolution (CR) for FY2007 (P.L. 109-383) carried funding for the Arts in Education program through February 15, 2007, at the lower of the House-passed, Senate-passed, or FY2006 level. In this instance, the FY2006 funding level ($35.3 million ) will be provided.

This report provides background and legislative history on arts in education. It will be updated.