The Rhode Island Music Education Association (RIMEA) called on state leaders today to prioritize funding for music and arts education as part of the state’s plan for investing American Rescue Plan funds.
According to RIMEA, Rhode Island is one of only two New England states to neglect the arts in their state Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER) plan submitted to the U.S. Department of Education.
RIMEA has requested that the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) address funding for the arts and music with local school districts through specific guidance.
“Unfortunately, this lack of mention of the arts in Rhode Island’s state plan is likely the reason that a number of school administrators are declining or ignoring music and art teachers’ specific requests to use ESSER funding to support arts learning loss programs, including materials, professional development, and staffing,” said David Neves, Advocacy Co-Chair at RIMEA in a statement.
“Funding for music and the arts is of particular importance considering the toll the pandemic has taken on children and teenagers,” said Patricia Kammerer, RIMEA Advocacy Co-Chair in a statement. “Music, and indeed all of the arts, and extracurricular activities provide students with an outlet to channel their passions and talents and alleviate the pressures in their daily lives.”
RIMEA says that the lack of specific attention and guidance from RIDE is causing confusion for administrators, music educators, students, and families, and is going to result in a lack of consistent and equitable programs statewide. This despite US-Ed’s own statements that ARP funds are providing nearly $122 billion to States “to support the Nation’s schools in safely reopening and sustaining safe operations of schools while meeting the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of students resulting from the pandemic.”
Neves added, “Not only can ESSER funds be used to support music and the arts, but they should be used in this manner due to the documented power of arts education to directly support the social, emotional and mental health of our students during these challenging times. Meanwhile, these funds could also address the massive loss of music learning over the last 18 months.”
The Rhode Island Music Education Association (RIMEA) is the state chapter of NAfME, the National Association for Music Education. Its mission is to provide professional development, leadership, and support for the state’s music teachers to promote quality music instruction and experiences for all students in Rhode Island as part of a complete education.