We all know how challenging the current environment has been. Due to the measures that have been taken to fight the spread of the coronavirus, states and cities across the country are struggling to maintain even the most basic services. Everyone has seen the effects of the battered economy, but as educators, the full impact of COVID-19 has not yet been made clear. There is, however, some broader indicators of what is to come: According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, the combined estimated shortfall for state budgets – not including additional costs incurred by the pandemic – will be approximately $650 billion. States are already looking to revise their budgets for the current and next fiscal years, and many are seeking to cut millions of dollars, including from education budgets.
The Educational Theatre Association believes that Congress must appropriate at least $200 billion specifically for education to help states avoid drastic negative consequences; many other education organizations are advocating for the same or similar amount. Without this funding, the inclusion of theatre as part of our students’ well-rounded education will be in serious jeopardy.
EdTA Director of Educational Policy James Palmarini said, “We are asking you to reach out to your members of Congress to request $200 billion to backfill state education budgets in the next legislative relief package. EdTA is partnering with the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) in a coordinated outreach to Federal legislators throughout the country.”
The link below will guide you to NAfME’s Grassroots Advocacy Center, which contains a pre-written letter and a tool that will identify your Senate and House legislators to whom you will send the letter. This process is easy if you follow the prompts provided. You can also add your own personal stories about how theatre has helped you and your students cope with these trying times. Palmarini added, “Together, we will get through this and ensure that our students and schools will too.”