Senate Passes Every Child Achieves Act, with Music and Arts as Core Subjects, Intact

music education


RESTON, VA (July 16, 2015)—The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) is deeply pleased with this afternoon’s development that the United States Senate has passed its bipartisan Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization proposal, the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177), by a final vote count of 81 to 17. The Senate’s action today is an important step forward in ensuring that all students—regardless of their socioeconomic status—experience the demonstrable positive impact that music education has on learning and life.

By naming music and arts as core subjects in the Every Child Achieves Act, the Senate has acknowledged and begun to address the national problem of the narrowing of the curriculum that has taken place under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) for more than a decade now.




“The music education community has poured its blood, sweat, and tears into getting the Senate’s bill to this point,” said Chris Woodside, NAfME Assistant Executive Director. “More than 14,000 letters have been sent to Capitol Hill on behalf of music teachers and students. There is bipartisan support for music and arts in this legislation—senators from across the country are acknowledging that these subjects should be national education priorities. That’s really big, and we’re grateful.”

“It is our strong hope that a motivated Congress will remain focused on ensuring that music education orchestrates success in the lives of all students throughout America,” said Michael Butera, NAfME Executive Director and CEO.

With the U.S. House of Representatives having successfully cleared its own Student Success Act (H.R. 5) ESEA reauthorization proposal last week, all eyes now turn to a pending conference committee process between the two chambers. NAfME and the music education community at-large will continue to play an active role in advocating for the inclusion of music and arts in any final version of the legislation.

“It is our strong hope that a motivated Congress will remain focused on ensuring that music education orchestrates success in the lives of all students throughout America,” said Michael Butera, NAfME Executive Director and CEO. “Music energizes and elevates, it makes schools better, and it creates better employees and citizens, later on in life. We look forward to working with Congress to get a good bill across the finish line.”

Learn more about the outcome and implementation of the final bill on NAfME’s “Everything ESSA” resource page.


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 60,000 members, the organization is the national voice of music education in the United States.

Follow NAfME on Twitter ( and on Facebook (
For additional information, contact Catherina Hurlburt at or 703-860-4000, ext. 242.


  • Rebecca Patricia Roybal

    HURRAY! This indeed is cause for celebration for music education, for instructors and supporters of all music education programs and certainly for all the hundreds of students across the country who will benefit the most from the opportunity to experience music through either learning how to play an instrument, learning how to use their voice in a choir or performing a choreographed routine.

    The National Association for Music, (NAfME) and Congress is to be congratulated for this great achievement in passing the bipartisan Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization proposal, the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177).

  • Rebecca Patricia Roybal

    HURRAY! This indeed is cause for celebration for music education, for
    instructors and supporters of all music education programs and
    certainly for all the hundreds of students across the country who will
    benefit the most from the opportunity to experience music through either
    learning how to play an instrument, learning how to use their voice in a
    choir or performing a choreographed routine.

    The National Association for Music, (NAfME) and Congress is to be
    congratulated for this great achievement in passing the bipartisan
    Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization proposal,
    the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177).

    Rebecca Roybal
    Vice President
    Snohomish County Music Project

  • Deborah Shaw

    Hopefully the federal requirements will not be misinterpreted.

  • Stuart Light

    Music and the other Arts are important, yes, but schooling and education are not among the powers delegated to Congress, in Article I Section 8 or anywhere else in the Constitution from which their authority derives. Defund, dissolve, and abolish the national Department of Education.

    • Kwane Boyd

      And let the states fund education themselves with strict budgets and varying oversights? Bah, humbug.

    • Victor Penniman

      Another constitutional expert. Eye-roll, followed by face-palm. Just…. stop.

  • Rick J. Delanty

    Amen, its about time!

  • tarynpettit

    Students who are in band/orchestra/choir/art do so much better in so called “core” subjects. We’re in this together. However, the pressure from the national stage and the weight placed on testing who supposedly come into our classrooms on an equal academic playing field, ignoring the arts….they are not understanding the best way in which we all learn.

    • Jim Wood

      For many reasons, I am 100% behind making the Arts, and PE, “core” subjects; although I can not find any studies that link the participation in Arts programs and higher achievement in other “core” subjects. Can you provide a link? I would appreciate it if you could.

      • kristenrNAfME

        Hi Jim, our website offers several examples of how music and arts participation impacts not only academic achievement, but how music education gives our students the inherent skills needed to succeed in today’s workforce.

      • Troy Sirkel
        Took that off this site. There are hundreds. I tell people that music is a full brain workout. It won’t teach you trig, but you will have bigger brain muscles to lift trig when the time comes. Try changing your google query and you can’t miss. Try including piano.

      • cathym

        While there are links, there do not need to be links. The whole idea in recognizing the arts as core subjects is that they are valuable subjects of study and exploration on their own and worthy of equal status in our children’s education. The “proof” of their value and of progress by students should be seen in different measures than with more academic areas of study. Square pegs, round holes, and all that. Now if we can just get our administrators to recognize this move as official and worthy of their honest attention.

        • Jim Wood

          A claim with evidence is nothing more than an opinion.

      • Dani

        I believe all of my intellectual qualities are from my participation in arts. I just graduated high school, and back in elementary I just had bad grades and lacked motivation. Once I joined band and choir, all of my grades went up as well as my work ethic. I was placed in advanced math class going into middle school which was a major change for me. I honestly believe my music education helped me in other subjects.

      • KrisCVTG8r

        Learning music at a young age helps with math. After all, it is a logical, math based subject. Music IS math. It helps with reading skills. At first, when you read music, you read note by note. But gradually you learn to read groups of notes. And if you play piano, you learn to read 2 staves of notes. This ability directly relates to the ability to read. It teaches eye hand coordination. Above all, it provides children an artistic outlet for emotions. It brings groups of children together where they learn to act as one unit. Band kids are a breed unto themselves.

        Did you know that, next to computer geeks, the first group NASA goes to for programmers are MUSIC MAJORS? Music theory is a highly analytical skill. And like programming where there are structures and substructures, specific rules and patterns, music has structure… is a direct correlation. Trust me. Not only am I a musician, who holds a Bachelor of Music degree, but I am a former software developer – it came naturally to me, and I was among the best at what I did. Now I’ve moved on to a career in medicine, but I still retain those skills.

  • Karl Glenn

    Great work! Keep after it during conference committee negotiations.

  • Sarah Bartlett Cifani

    It is about time. Hope this stays in through all the negotiations left.

  • Michele D

    First, I support this movement 100%. I teach students with special needs, and this will be a welcome opportunity for many. I also urge that the arts be made available, but not mandatory, because for every student that needs to express themselves artistically, there are those who will never be successful in these areas. It’s all about finding and developing a student’s strengths and vulnerabilities, and helping prepare them for a successful career, or further education, and hopefully, a fulfilling, and productive life. Hope the bill is successful.

    • stephen stollmack

      “for every student that needs to express themselves artistically, there are those who will never be successful in these areas”. 70-years after taking a music appreciation course and I still can’t carry a tune if it was strapped to my back but I still can identify (and enjoy Berlioz, Beethoven’s 9th, Tchaikovsky’s 5th, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and about 2-dozen other Classical pieces. Music is for every child not just those who can excel at performing.

    • Devera Moore

      It should be mandatory at the elementary level. Voice and instrumental teachers should be provided 5 days a week. With that kind of exposure in the early years, Middle school and High school students will be know if that’s an elective in which they are truly interested!

    • Linz

      It does not matter. While comparing your students to non sped student they may appear to be unsuccessful. They are successful for their level. All students should be allowed the opportunity. I also feel that if were allowed to have Sped student by themselves we could tailor our lessons around their individual needs. Placing them in regular ed ( mainstreaming) with the a large class is a disservice to them. It is even more these days because regular ed students ( a good portion) are so me oriented that they cannot handle or accept us wanting to spend more time with the Sped students. While mainstreaming is good I think in some arts classes such as general music to have them by themselves would be more beneficial.

    • EEE

      Michelle, Arts education should be a requirement for all students in the same way that learning to read is mandatory. Arts education is not about turning out professionals it is about giving students an understanding, appreciation, and ability to communicate in these manners. Although not every student is going to excel at mathematics I think we would all agree that all students need to be given the opportunity to learn and understand mathematics. The same expectation and opportunity should be afforded all students in their arts education.

      • annie

        Bravo EEE!!!

  • David Kempton

    Here’s hoping this gets through, but don’t hold your breath…

  • Valerie Wells

    There is ample proof that music study helps students read better and do math better. Music is just math when you break it down. And nurturing creativity with music and other arts has proven effects on discipline, maturity and motivation for showing up at school.

    • Rich Pulin


  • Diane Spain Butler

    Now, let’s see if they allow the kids to learn the National Anthem and America the Beautiful.

  • Logan Rhodes

    1. “Core subjects” were defined under No Child Left Behind as including the arts.
    2. The narrowing of the curriculum you speak of was occurring before No Child Left Behind but has gotten worse because of the testing required under NCLB.
    What in this legislation is different from NCLB?

  • ren_man

    define: “arts”
    Will this include dance, theatre, media, and visual arts OR will it end up being only visual arts?

    While it is well and good that music has been separately listed thereby making discussion of its inclusion moot, how many of the arts will end up being excluded?

  • Michele Erhard

    Every child benefits from Music Education! Preserve the cultures of the Arts for our Future by including Music in our Core Education Requirements moving forward.

  • Mark

    Now let’s see if they back it with the funds needed, or just expect the currently overstretched teachers to cover the added class load. I can see this hurting ensemble classes as we pull those teachers to cover new “core” music classes. It’s a good move but I doubt the $$ is there to do it right.

    • annie

      Mark, I know how you feel and agree with you, except for the $$ to do it right. There are ways to offset this problem, at least in the Vocal/Choral area. I know this is a shameless plug, but the reason I even started writing curriculum-based music was because teachers and arts budgets were either overstretched or barely existing, and having been a music teacher in a school, I was aware of what types of music were needed….so I just wrote songs that matched some of the social and educational topics we were covering. Our songs were mostly recorded by or with children. One thing I tried hard to do was to make sure that our songs could be taught in the classroom by a non-musical teacher, so if there was not a music teacher at the school, or minimal music classes, these songs could still be used, and the kids get to enjoy music anyway, singing along with a karaoke version of the songs when they learn the song. If more musicians would write songs for schools, there would be the money to do it right. Best of luck to all teachers…I have been where you are and we support you. Look us up….Annie Lynn and Chris Arms…..AnnieBirdd Music, LLC Pennsylvania

  • Musikmaker

    Bravo, that’s what I have spent most of my 85+ years fostering and educating: boards of Education, Administrators, Communities, friends. I took the offered “early retirement” in ’85 As Choral Director from one of the top ranked Choirs: due to where I was on the District’s pay scale (and Union demands that I be paid for ALL involvements). I was eager to continue my education to bring the latest to my “charges” via summer courses (universities), workshops, seminars, overseas Symposiums. I had accrued some 72 hours over the M.A. I was “too educated, too old at 55”, all to bring in a very under-qualified replacement. A top quality and superior choral program sank to “Hey man, make me sing” with the transition and influx from the “Big” city and the families of the “desiring” moving due to impossible taxation. This also caused my family to eventually move to Arkansas where I am still educating via performance involvements in our area- classic piano performance at a “Coffee Shop” in town-, three Harmony Barbershop Society chapters and the local retired teacher’s organization. We support State and local performing organization within retirement financial restriction.

  • Linz

    Maybe we will get more instructional time in the arts. Currently, where I teach we receive less than 50% of the time that Math gets. Hey. I teach math when I teach counting.

  • Hopefully it’s full STEAM ahead with this bill… (ha). Even the title “Every Child Achieves” correlates so much more appropriately with how music ensembles actually function (as a group). Music ensembles inherently demand the achievement of every child at some level, whereas in all other core subjects, some (many) kids can lose interest, get distracted, and perform poorly – while having no bearing on any other student’s level of achievement (aside from the occasional group project). Music students are being tested everyday, as a group, and constantly with every note that they play. When everyone in the room achieves at the same time, it sounds great and feels extremely gratifying for everyone. That’s an educational dynamic that is not present in any other core subject. Oh, and the vast majority of students I’ve worked with in bands absolutely LOVE it, because there is also plenty of fun built in. People would be amazed at what children can achieve when they simply want to be somewhere, rather than if they have to be.

  • Deb

    Pandora’s box has been opened now; this should come with a healthy dose of “Be Careful What You Wish For.” The minute the Arts become “Core Subjects” according to those who have already foisted Common Core on the US, the arts become subject to the same micromanagement, the same degree of “rigor,” the same perception of them primarily as academic subjects like math and English, and the same degree of standardized testing as the subjects already tested.

    I would not want a non-musician and non-educator telling me as a music teacher what I should be teaching my students and in what way, nor would I want my students graded on tests created by test companies that I’ll never see, nor would I want my own evaluation as a teacher to be affected by those assessments. I got useful feedback when my music supervisor came to my classroom and observed me; I even got good feedback from a couple of principals who were open to the idea that the band room doesn’t work like an English classroom (sadly, those principals were few and far between. frown emoticon )

    While I am glad to see the arts acknowledged as “core” subjects, I won’t fool myself as to what this means in the classroom, the art room, the band room, where the rubber meets the road. It will mean more time spent on testing; it will mean more data-gathering and data management; it will mean more bureaucracy. It will also mean LESS creativity, LESS actual ART.

    Be afraid….be very very afraid….

    • LSC

      Deb!!!! Oh my gosh I am writing one year later it shows when you posted and YOU were/are absolutely correct. My daughter has choir for her HS class and she was asked to show “evidence” of improvement (showing “evidence” in text is one of those David Coleman BS terms…as of no one ever did that before when giving their written opinions…so dumb!!!!…he admitted he/the CC architects were unqualified, and belieVe me–WE KNOW!!!! They are polluting music, art, and P.E. with the common core standards by using as an excuse that they did this to make these courses important core subjects. Nice Snow Job, they were always important subjects, but now they are forced to be combined with a bunch of mandated CC BS!!!! Music, Art, and Gym need to be about what they actually ARE, not combining them with a bunch of other CC nonsense and cross curricular mandates. Maybe we need to start exercising during our Shakespeare unit in Literature…would that be appropriate….give me a flipp’iN break!!!! This was a way to now control these subjects, that should have been left ALONE because they are beneficial as what they ARE! Taking away From what they ARE only takes away time that they can actually be active doing art, creating music, and being physically active!!!!! Biggest BS I’ve EVER seen that has pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes to control now the arts/phys ed aspect of education. The people need to push back and push back HARD and Complain…for these unqualified Non-Ed-Experts to get out of our schools telling the REAL educators what they must do! They are taking away by force the control of our real educators as professionals!!!! We need to Get rid of this ASAP by calling our Reps and complaining A LOT!!!!!

  • stephen murphy

    as a just retired Visual Arts teacher and chair, i am disappointed not to see the NAEA advocating for this along with their performing arts colleagues.

  • Roxanne Crabill

    This is wonderful!!! They should also include vocational studies and physical education

  • MegaLabLady

    Hmmmm… how are they going to test that??? Measure that achievement?? On the computer which is where they test everything else???

  • Troy Sirkel

    As a music teacher, I have never been a member of the “Uncommon Core”.

  • Brandi

    Arts were already listed as core at the federal level so I’m not sure how this will be different? Or what it will actually change at the state level? It’s my understanding that the lack of implementation for arts as core is at the state level. Title One funding has been available for arts for years but states won’t allocate it. Any insight?

    • kristenrNAfME

      Hi Brandi, the listing of music as part of a “Well-Rounded
      Education” articulates to schools the importance of music education being a
      part of a broad and rich curricula. In addition, it provides greater
      opportunities for the use federal funding to increase the access of music
      education for all students, especially those most vulnerable. The specific
      listing helps makes music eligible for over ten different funding provisions
      within the bill; you may find more detail on each of funding provisions that
      mentions music or well-rounded education in our full legislative analysis:

    • Kate

      Brandi the arts are listed as a core subject however, the arts do not have an assessment so there is really no way for the arts to be measured for funding for schools. If the USFG would have made states come up with an assessment plan, we would not be here with art being cut from budgets across the country. The USFG did not force it so the states did not fund it.

  • ccaffrey

    I know a lot of musicians who considered their band or music director as a much-needed parent figure who taught them FAR more than music, including being responsible to a community larger than themselves and striving for excellence. Add in the complex skill sets and it’s a wonderful lab for learning the interconnectedness of things obvious and subtle. I have friends who’ve told me candidly if it wasn’t for band and the band director they would probably be dead or in jail. They still keep in touch 20-30 years later!

  • David Block

    Okay, so they require arts in the curriculum. What happens next? And, does that include Fine Arts, graphic arts, Performing Arts, etc.? Or is this only pushing music education? I am a new graphic arts teacher at a middle school in Southern California. Looking forward to seeing how this will affect and bolster my classes.

  • Ashe McFly

    I’m really sorry for the negativity, but while this is an incredible idea, where is the funding for these programs? Money is why they were cut back and somehow I don’t see sports taking the financial hit, they can’t pay teachers much less and still expect people to choose the career, and the current core subjects are already on thin ice. I’m sorry but I don’t see this really coming to anything until the government changes its attitude toward education.

    • Heliotrope

      If it’s not even in the curriculum, there’s nothing to even try to fund.

  • Joyce Oxfeld

    Because of deficits in Philadelphia Music Education and emergence of so many specialty Charter Schools, the Arts have lost out for the most part and become very ‘regionalized ‘ , requiring private study and competition that many young people cannot reach.