Advocacy Alert: Nov. 21, 2011

Senate Committee Approves ESEA Reauthorization Bill; AAM Offers Several Opportunities for Advocacy

Last night, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved the first comprehensive rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which is commonly referred to as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

The Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act moves away from the federal “one size fits all” accountability systems and seeks to give states greater flexibility in determining school and student progress. The legislation also focuses on chronically underperforming schools, relaxes some of the rigid standardized testing requirements and seeks to redesign evaluations of teachers and principals. The Committee passed the bill by a vote of 15-7.

"This is potentially great news for museums, because the No Child Left Behind Act has had the unintended consequence of leaving children without as many museum experiences, which are critical for helping them learn the curriculum and develop their critical thinking skills needed to compete in the 21st century," said AAM President Ford W. Bell. “This is just the first step in a long process, but one thing is clear: Museums must ensure that our elected leaders understand the vital role that museums play in educating our students, teachers, and communities."

So What Happens Next?

The legislation still must go to the Senate floor for a vote where it is likely to face numerous amendments and, judging by the Committee's actions over the past two days, many procedural hurdles. The HELP Committee is also planning to hold an additional hearing in November, prior to Senate floor consideration. Is one of your Senators on the HELP Committee?

 What Else Can You Do?

  • If you care about education, or the work your museum does supporting learning at all ages, we encourage you to contact your Senators today to remind them of the critical role that museums play in education. Learn more about museums and education policy.
  • We also encourage you to attend Museums Advocacy Day in February. We predict that the debate on education will be at a critical juncture in February so we hope you can participate in this important event.
  • AAM will offer a FREE Online Advocacy Training Program, What is Museums Advocacy Day?, Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 2 p.m. (ET)
    Learn more or register now.