Let’s look closer at the details of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and how it revolutionizes our legislative perspective on providing sequential, comprehensive music education in our nation’s schools. The definition of a “Well-Rounded Education,” the concept that is replacing “Core Subjects” from No Child Left Behind’s limited focus, is very clearly defined as something that includes a variety of subjects – including music and the arts. The philosophy of supporting student enrichment through a broad offering within our school learning culture is very exciting. This is the first time in history that music has a specific and separate mention in the law as an important element of well-rounded education. The bill also makes it clear that the elements of a well-rounded education are not optional, but mandatory parts of the offered curricula. This provides teachers and administrators with a powerful platform to assess their school’s needs in the enumerated areas (including music!), and to seek federal funds which can help them to address those needs.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Share this information with everyone in your school. The biggest challenge in implementing such a radical positive change is getting everyone informed and turning the conversation into action. As you assess your classroom needs for the school year, partner with your administrators to include elements of well-rounded education which may have not been options before. Federal funding (Title I and Title IV) may be available for your school in categories which were never considered before!