NAfME Addresses the State of Our Union’s Middle Class and Education


RESTON, VA (January 23, 2015)—On January 20, 2015, President Obama presented his sixth State of the Union address to Congress, in which one of his primary themes was his focus on “middle class economics.” He discussed issues such as raising the minimum wage, increasing access to community colleges, student loan relief, investments in new technologies, extended child care tax credits, and expanded access to healthcare and health insurance as tools for strengthening the middle class.

Noticeably lacking (other than touting the highest graduation rates and math and reading scores on record) was any mention of K-12 education. Meanwhile, re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) has emerged as an immediate priority for the Senate and House education committees in the new Congress. If passed, this new ESEA will have an enormously significant impact on access to high-quality education for our nation’s students and their entry into a more prosperous future.

This lack of attention to the longer-view investment in public education within the President’s domestic policy priorities is concerning for the teaching profession, and most of all, students.

The draft ESEA bill presented last week by Senator Lamar Alexander (TN) sharply curtails the federal role and investment in education. However, without increased federal support, music education and other non-tested subjects will continue to take a backseat to other disciplines. Music education supporters should read the Music Education Policy Roundtable’s suggested improvements to this proposal in the areas of core subject status, accessibility, teacher evaluation, accountability, and teacher preparation. (Further detail can be found by accessing the Roundtable’s Winter 2015 ESEA Reauthorization Legislative Requests.) Join the broader minded campaign to urge Congress to ensure support for music education in the the ESEA reauthorization.

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The President concluded his remarks tonight by calling for “a better politics” that seeks to find common ground on controversial but vital policy issues. To use the words of his address, surely all can agree education is the best investment that can be made in our nation’s future, and that consensus can be reached that maximizes access to high-quality education for all students. To that end, a new ESEA that invests in teachers, allows for fair and relevant evaluation and assessment, and supports rich curricula including music and the arts as core is needed now more than ever.


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.

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For additional information, contact Catherina Hurlburt at or 703-860-4000, ext. 242.