RESTON, VA (January 16, 2015)—Earlier this week, Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released a “discussion draft” of his new Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization proposal. In a nutshell, the bill does not signify a step forward for music education, in federal statute.
The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) has been deeply involved in discussions with key HELP Committee staffers, on both sides of the aisle—about music education priorities, and what is best for all students across America.
On January 13, the Music Education Policy Roundtable, a coalition of likeminded organizations and institutions founded by NAfME, advocating for high quality music education in America’s schools, identified its legislative priorities for the ESEA reauthorization.
The Roundtable has outlined these five priorities for Congress, in an effort to create both a policy and teaching environment more conducive to the importance of providing all students with access to a well-rounded education that includes high quality instruction in music education.
The goal is to solicit bipartisan support for accomplishing these priorities on behalf of all students across America:
- STRENGTHENED STATUS: In order to strengthen the importance of music education in the law, for purposes of both garnering state-level funding and other forms of support, the Roundtable asks that Congress maintain the core academic subject section in any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
- INCREASED ACCESSIBILITY: In order to ensure that even the most disadvantaged of students have access to high quality music education programs, no matter their personal circumstance or background, the Roundtable asks that Congress strengthen language throughout any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, so as to increase clarity as to the availability of such resources, for use in this regard.
- EQUITABLE TEACHER EVALUATION: In order to ensure that music educators are always evaluated by qualified individuals utilizing reliable measures germane to their discipline of study, and to make certain that ultimate accountability for all such measures is directly attributable to music teachers themselves, the Roundtable asks that Congress offer language in any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, recommending the institutionalizing of this practice.
- BALANCED ACCOUNTABILITY: In order to ensure that, in making school district accountability determinations, “well-rounded” factors, such as achievement in music, are considered, in addition to state assessment results in reading/language arts and mathematics, the Roundtable asks that Congress recognize the reliability of such multiple measures of performance, in developing corresponding State plans, in any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
- ENHANCED TEACHER PREPARATION: In order to ensure that all federal granting opportunities for purposes of preparing, training, and recruiting high quality teachers and principals include a measure of consideration as to the importance of high quality music and arts education delivery abilities, the Roundtable asks that Congress insert further clarifying language in any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
For more information on the Music Education Policy Roundtable and its Winter 2015 ESEA legislative requests, please visit the Roundtable’s website.
While there remains a deep philosophical divide between the two parties’ visions for education reform, there is also considerably more optimism on Capitol Hill than during previous reauthorization attempts, and a feeling remains, that, in time, and with compromise, it is possible that a deal could be reached, this year. Music teachers and supporters are asked to submit comments to Chairman Alexander’s HELP staff, sharing the Roundtable’s legislative agenda, and asking for improved provisions for music in these key areas, between now and February 2.
National Association for Music Education, among the world’s largest arts education organizations, is the only association that addresses all aspects of music education. NAfME advocates at the local, state, and national levels; provides resources for teachers, parents, and administrators; hosts professional development events; and offers a variety of opportunities for students and teachers. The Association orchestrates success for millions of students nationwide and has supported music educators at all teaching levels for more than a century. With more than 130,000 members, the organization is the voice of music education in the United States.
Follow NAfME on Twitter (twitter.com/nafme) and on Facebook (facebook.com/nafme).
For additional information, contact Catherina Hurlburt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-860-4000, ext. 242.