Affordable Arts Programs for Low-Income Students in Central Texas: A Comprehensive Guide

Central Texas is home to many low-income students who are in need of affordable, accessible, and high-quality after-school and summer learning programs. The Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) has stated in its ESSA plan that it will use a portion of the state funding of the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Program (SSAE) of Title IV, Part A to conduct a needs assessment to determine what areas LEAs need assistance with within the SSAE program. The Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE) has highlighted the specific artistic integration efforts it has partnered with schools to develop and teach thematic teaching that covers multiple disciplines. Pennsylvania has committed to using Title IV, Parts A and B (SSAE and 21st CCLC) funds to improve arts education, with priority given to the latter funds for programs that incorporate the arts.

Mississippi has identified the arts as an important aspect of comprehensive education and has prioritized arts programs when allocating SSAE program funding. For measures not included in a school's accountability index, including those it plans to incorporate in the future (but not yet part of the index), Massachusetts has suggested that they could be included in improving report cards from schools and districts to encourage conversations about programmatic or political changes at the state and local levels. The Central Texas YMCA is exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code. Wisconsin has highlighted the flexibility that districts and schools have within the framework of ESSA to invest federal dollars, such as those from the SSAE and 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) program, in a way that best suits the needs of their students, which could include arts education.

Washington has included the arts in one of its 16 designated professional careers and remains committed to allocating Title I, Part A funding to facilitate professional preparation. If you are looking for ways to help low-income students access affordable arts programs in Central Texas, there are several options available. You can talk to local schools about their current arts programs and how they can be improved. Ask them about their current metrics for access to the arts, such as how many art credits students earned, the number of art courses offered, and the number of students per art teacher. This measure is calculated by grade range and group of students, and is the percentage of students enrolled in identified courses out of all students enrolled in each school, local education agency (LEA), and state throughout the academic year.

The Central Texas YMCA is another great resource for low-income students looking for affordable arts programs. The YMCA provides services to anyone who wishes to participate within its available resources. Additionally, Creative Action has been providing high-quality after-school and camp programs since 2003 to tens of thousands of Central Texas youth in six school districts in the area. Finally, there are compelling reasons to suspect that participation in arts education can improve school climate, empower students with a sense of purpose and ownership, and increase mutual respect for their teachers and peers.

Therefore, it is important for schools to prioritize access to arts education for low-income students in order to ensure they have access to quality learning opportunities.