Update to Action Alert: Support the Arts in ESSA Plan

Thank you to everyone who sent letters to the California Department of Education requesting the inclusion of language about the Visual and Performing Arts in the state plan to implement Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). We have been in touch with the California Department of Education to raise our concerns about this issue and received the following response from Barbara Murchison, ESSA State Lead at the California Department of Education:

The current draft of the ESSA State Plan, available on the California Department of Education California ESSA State Plan Drafts webpage, does reference the VAPA standards and the state’s intentions to support the implementation of these standards, particularly in the Title II, Part A section of the document.

Perhaps more important, the ESSA State Plan is fundamentally an application for federal funds—not a master plan for P-12 education—and the State Board of Education has directed us to meet, not exceed, plan requirements. The template does not require California to describe how it is supporting VAPA education, so the document already goes beyond what is required to signal California’s commitment to supporting VAPA education as a key element of a well-rounded education for our students.

We will present the plan to the State Board of Education for approval at its September meeting and submit it to the U.S. Department of Education on September 18. However, there will be much implementation work to come after the plan is approved, with most of the opportunities to support VAPA education happening at the local, not state, level. To support local implementation efforts, the California Department of Education sent a letter regarding using federal funds to support VAPA education to local educational agencies on February 27, 2017. I anticipate that more guidance regarding local use of federal funds to support standards implementation will be forthcoming once the plan is approved. Notably, to date, the VAPA standards are the only set of SBE-adopted standards for which the California Department of Education has provided ESSA-related guidance.

The most recent California Department of Education California ESSA State Plan Drafts can be viewed here. In addition, anyone interested in expressing their opinion about arts education is welcome to attend the next State Board of Education meeting on September 13-14 in Sacramento. More information here.