It’s a new day for music education. For the first time ever, music has been recognized as a stand-alone subject in the definition of a Well-Rounded Education in a new federal education law.
Today, the United States Senate passed the “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA) [S. 1177] by a final vote count of 85 to 12, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was reauthorized. With the President’s signature, hopefully in the days to come, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) will be no more.
We want to thank our members and all music education advocates for sending more than 20,000 letters to Congress. Your voice contributed to this monumental advancement for music education.
Here are the most important top line takeaways from the new bill:
- A New and Clear Intent to Support Our Nation’s Schools Through a Well-Rounded Education: This is a sea change from NCLB, which focused heavily on the academic success of students narrowly defined as reading and math.
- Enumeration of Music as a Well-Rounded Subject: Replacing the Core Academic Subject language from NCLB, this language clearly articulates that music should be a part of every child’s education, no matter their personal circumstance.
- Requirements for Well-Rounded Education: Schools will now be able to assess their ability to provide a well-rounded education, including music, and address any deficiencies using federal funds.
- Flexibility of Title I funds to support a well-rounded education. All Title I programs, both school-wide and targeted, are now available to provide supplemental funds for a well-rounded education, including music.
- More Professional Development for Music Educators: Funds from Titles I, II and IV of ESSA, may support professional development for music educators as part of supporting a well-rounded education.
- Flexible Accountability Systems: States must now include multiple progress measures in assessing school performance, which can include such music education-friendly measures as student engagement, parental engagement and school culture/climate.
- Protection from “Pull Outs”: The new ESSA discourages removing students from the classroom, including music and arts, for remedial instruction.
To learn more about the bill, click here.
Passing this law with music listed as a stand-alone subject simply kicks open the door of opportunity to ensuring music’s place in every school — and leading in the decision-making for what that looks like.