Talking Points for Advocating for Arts and Music Education for All Students

Arts Education Is Essential Unifies
Arts and Music Education Groups Nationwide

Talking Points for Advocating for Arts and Music Education for All Students

Update: Learn about the 2021 campaign: Arts Are Education

This past spring as policy- and decision-makers made school reopening plans for the fall, National Association for Music Education (NAfME) joined 52 other organizations in a statement that supports arts education for all students. Since May, that number has grown to 113 national organizations that have signed on to the “Arts Education Is Essential” statement.

Arts Education Is Essential statement


“Arts Education Is Essential” speaks to arts education’s role in supporting the social and emotional well-being of students, an area that administrators, educators, and parents have highlighted as essential to student safety and success during the pandemic and as students return to school, whether in-person, online, or in a blended fashion, this fall. Arts education also creates a welcoming school environment and a healthy and inclusive school community, helping students, educators, parents, and the community at large build and strengthen their connectedness during this time of social isolation and social distancing.

The statement also reminds the public that arts education is a part of a well-rounded education as defined by the federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and supported in state laws throughout the country. Forty-six states require an arts credit to receive a high school diploma, and 43 states have instructional requirements in the arts in elementary and secondary schools.

NAfME encourages music educators and all other advocates for music education to use this statement and the important points it makes as you advocate for the vital place of arts and music education in any plan that is made about school schedules and other future planning for your community’s schools.

NAfME has been helping music educators prepare for the return to school in the fall. Advocacy and support efforts include:

  1. A “Music Education and Social-Emotional Learning” brochure, outlining how music education can support quality social-emotional learning outcomes for students.
  2. Instrument hygiene guidelines in partnership with the NAMM Foundation and the National Federation of State High School Associations, explaining how instruments can be safely returned and cleaned for use next school year.
  3. Dozens of high-quality professional development webinars, featuring ways in which to teach music successfully in a virtual setting, as well as additional resources to support standards-based music instruction.
  4. A public advocacy campaign to support federal funds to backfill state education budget shortfalls. More than 10,000 letters have been sent to Congress, urging our lawmakers to support public education.
  5. A guide to school reopening plans, featuring how music can be taught safely and effectively to students both in-person and virtually next school year.

The music and arts education community has been active during this pandemic in providing administrators, educators, and other stakeholders guidance and support, as well as forward-thinking planning for music educators and district arts supervisors to take a lead as school districts make plans for the next school year. In any decision about how school districts will operate in the next and future school years, music and arts education will be essential in providing all students equitable educational opportunities that also continue to prepare them for an ever-changing world.

July 29, 2020. © National Association for Music Education (