GoArts News February 28, 2011:
TCQAE has begun updating GoArts.org with information about the 2011 legislative session. It will be our vehicle to communicate with you any activity at the capitol that may negatively affect arts education in our schools.
You can register your support and we will email you when there is need for you to contact your legislators. If you already registered your support and would also like to receive more frequent emails every time there is an update to the web site, update your preferences to select this new option.
Much has transpired at the capitol relative to funding for public education in the past month. Some have referred to the original budget submitted by the House Appropriations Committee as the "shock and awe" budget. Financial experts in Austin have referred to it as "Armageddon."
The day after the budget was released an erroneous report was released by the AP and other reporting services stating that arts education had been eliminated or slashed in Texas public schools. Due to a $600,000 budget cut in the Texas Commission on the Arts grant dollars earmarked for arts education, the press determined that arts education in our schools had been eliminated. Thankfully, that is not the case, and there was no concerted effort to eliminate the arts in Texas schools by the House or Senate Appropriations Committees.
The reality, however, is that local districts are looking to the arts as a way to cut staff and save dollars. Such erroneous reporting as mentioned above as well as Governor Perry recommending the Texas Commission on the Arts be eliminated, fuel this perception. Some cuts in fine arts staffing have been made and more have been projected, and the battle to restore those positions will be fought at the local level. Our goals at the state level are as follows:
- Support Commissioner of Education Robert Scott’s recommendation to minimally restore 6.1 billion dollars to the Foundation School Program and thus provide funds for local districts to continue to serve our students.
- Protect the current fine arts requirements in law at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels.
- Support SB140 (Shapiro, R-Plano) that limits a campus administrator or school district from removing students from other academic classes such as fine arts for TAKS remediation. This bill has been voted out of the Senate Education Committee.
- Organize an Arts Education Caucus at the capitol where legislators may sign on as supporters of arts education in Texas schools. Senator Leticia Van De Putte and Representative Mark Shelton have agreed to co-chair the caucus, and legislators will be extended an invitation to join next week. Please encourage your senator and representative to sign on as a member.
- Launch a media campaign countering the extracurricular nature of arts education and the perception that fine arts programs should take a disproportionate part of the cuts in local education funding. This project is under way.
Arts Education Days at the Capitol will take place on March 7-8, and we encourage all of you to attend. Visit this page on the GoArts.org web site for more information on this exciting event. Meanwhile, get your friends and neighbors to register with GoArts.org so they may be a part of our effort to protect arts education for the 4.8 million Texas school students.