Right off the bat in January, the new 114th Congress dove headfirst into the education policy debate. And NAfME and fellow music education groups were right there in the midst of the action to ensure music education would not be lost in the mix. NAfME has been deeply involved in discussions with key Committee staffers, on both sides of the aisle, about music education priorities, and what is best for all students across America. But 2015 and beyond will prove to be a significant challenge for music education advocates—and education in general. Nevertheless, NAfME will continue to bring the voices of music educators and their supporters to Capitol Hill.
On January 13, 2015, the Music Education Policy Roundtable, a coalition of likeminded organizations and institutions, advocating for high quality music education in America’s schools, identified its legislative priorities for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
The Music Education Policy Roundtable has outlined these 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.
In total, the Music Education Policy Roundtable has identified five key areas of prioritization in this reauthorization, and it is our goal to solicit bipartisan support for accomplishing these goals on behalf of all students across America.
Here are the Roundtable’s legislative priorities for the 2015 reauthorization of ESEA:
- 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, we ask 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, we ask 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, we ask 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, we ask 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, we ask 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 legislative agenda, please visit the Roundtable’s website often for updates in 2015. Stay tuned for new legislative analysis of education policy proposals, which you can use as you contact your own U.S. senators and representative to express your concerns and requests on behalf of music education.
Catherina Hurlburt, Communications Manager, January 15, 2015. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)