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Alexandria, VA (07/29/10)—During a policy briefing on Capitol Hill today, ASCD and 20 major education organizations, which represent a wide array of subject areas, released consensus recommendations for how the federal government can better support core subjects beyond reading and math.
The policy recommendations are a response to the No Child Left Behind Act’s singular focus on student performance in reading and math in addition to the Obama's administration’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) blueprint and FY11 budget request, which continue to prioritize reading and math over other subjects. Although the FY11 budget request includes a $38.9 million increase in funding to support teaching and learning in the arts, history, civics, foreign languages, geography, and economics, the administration proposes to combine eight subject-specific grant programs into a single competitive grant program. In the competitive program, the various subjects would be pitted against each other for resources. Such an approach could threaten schools' and districts' ability to provide each student with a well-rounded education, a result that seems to be the exact opposite intention of the administration.
"At ASCD we believe in the critical importance of a well-rounded education for each student," ASCD Executive Director Gene Carter said. "Our Whole Child Initiative is predicated on the comprehensiveness of health, social, and educational services for children—including a complete and engaging curriculum. We’re pleased that such a broad spectrum of organizations representing very different subject areas came together in support of what’s best for our children."
The group's recommendations call for an expanded definition of college and career readiness, continued funding for each discipline, rigorous evaluation of those funded activities, and more meaningful accountability for student achievement across subjects. ASCD and the sign-on organizations will be sharing their recommendations with members of Congress and their staffs to inform ESEA reauthorization efforts.
"Reading and math are fundamental to educational success, but there are equally important subjects for a student's success in higher education, in employment, and as active and engaged citizens of our nation," said Les Francis, chair of the Federal Policy Task Force of the Civic Mission of Schools Campaign and a panelist at the event. "This coalition's support for a well-rounded education is a vital step toward working together against an unduly and counterproductive, narrow curriculum."
Fellow panelist Michael Blakeslee, senior deputy executive director of MENC: The National Association for Music Education, added, "As our consensus statement and recommendations make clear, it is the combination of subjects and the interrelationship between disciplines that enhance student learning and understanding."
As of July 29, the following organizations have endorsed the recommendations
If your organization is interested in endorsing the well-rounded recommendations, please contact ASCD’s policy unit by e-mail or call 1-703-575-5604. See the consensus recommendations and a continuously updated list of sign-on organizations.
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