As is evident in the increasingly complex and high-tech world of the 21st century, New York’s students and adult learners must learn how to access, interpret, and analyze all types of information to succeed. The Museum Education Act (MEA) creates a bridge between our state’s vital museums and our local schools by providing grant funding to help prepare students and adult learners for success in the 21st century while ultimately making New York more competitive in the global economy. New York’s museums play a major role in helping students and adult learners acquire the hands on skills and knowledge needed for success in education. Museums educate, inform, and excite students and adult learners and help them to learn critical higher-order thinking skills.
The Museum Education Act is…
The MEA is a new bill proposed by the Museum Association of New York (MANY) and the NYS Education Department (NYSED). The new bill builds on a piece of legislation advanced as a Regent’s Budget Priority in 2006/2007 and creates a grant program to be administered by the Commissioner of Education acting on behalf of the Board of Regents. The MEA launches a major partnership between eligible chartered museums, historical societies, zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums and schools, bringing the resources and expertise of New York museum community fully in line with statewide efforts to improve student performance and access to knowledge. It recognizes that museums and other eligible institutions are centers of learning and allows access to much-needed-funding at a time when many of our museums and eligible institutions are struggling to keep their doors open and our schools are struggling to find the funding to transport students to these world-class destination sites.
How it would work…
Museums and other eligible institutions would have access to grant funding to conduct curriculum-based educational programs for students and teachers in grades pre-kindergarten through twelve and adults enrolled in continuing education programs. The grants are competitive in nature and can be used for the production of curricula, acquisition of specialized educational or interpretive skills, the acquisition of specialized educational technology, the preparation of specialized educational exhibition or public programming, the development and delivery of continuing education programs, the transportation of students to a museum, historical society, zoo, botanical garden or aquarium, and other programs that support the development and delivery of curriculum-based programs in museums and other eligible institutions with collections. The funding is broken down by the budget size of the applying institution so that institutions of the same size and capacity would be competing against each other.
What is the financial impact of the program…
The MEA would allocate up to $25 million annually for the grant program based on the discretion of the Commissioner of Education on behalf of the Board of Regents.
Why is it needed…
New York State has more museums, historical societies, zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums than any other state, many of which are among the leading art, history, science, and natural history institutions in the world. As many as 60 million visitors, including over 6 million school children, visit New York’s museums and institutions each year, the economic impact of which is well into the billions of dollars statewide. However, many of these major tourist and educational destinations are struggling financially to keep their doors open and provide the services students and adult learners need. Since 2008, school districts statewide have been forced to cut their budgets and many have unfortunately cut transportation budgets once used to transport students to their local and regional museums and institutions. This unfortunate reality has effectively cut-off many of New York’s students from learning field trips and, in turn, harmed the museums and institutions they once visited. The MEA will help end this practice and get our students and adult learners back to the museums and institutions eager to serve them, all at no cost to local school districts. And in doing so, it will strengthen the educational competitiveness of New York’s students and adult learners while strengthening the economy in the process.
What You Can Do:
Meet with, call, and write to your museum's local and regional Assemblymembers and State Senators asking them to support the Museum Education Act. Print and hand to them the summary document (soon to come). Write to your local media (letters to the editor, blog entries, etc.) about the Museum Education Act and why it is important to your museum, your schools, and all museums and schools in New York State. The Museum Education Act cannot happen without your support and engagement at the local level. All politics is local and it is up to you to make this a local issue!
The MEA is Alive!
The Museum Education Act (MEA) has been introduced by Senator Betty Little, Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation and has been assigned the number S5001. Assemblymember Matthew Titone has introduced the bill in the Assembly and it has been assigned the number A8199.
Many has developed a MEA Toolbox for the museum community that includes information on the bill and why it is important for your museum, template letters to the editor about the bill, and handy sheets you can fill in regarding your institution's economic impact and who your elected leaders are. If you do not know who your Senator or Assemblymember is, please visit the website here.
Please remember, we need your help to advocate for this important piece of legislation. Please contact your local Assemblymember and Senator and ask that they co-sponsor Senate Bill 5001/Assembly Bill 8199. Tell them why it matters to your organization and why it is important to their region. The more co-sponsors we have, the better!
Additional Documents for Your Reference:
For More Information…
The Museums Association of New York