Signed into law in December 2015, the ESSA demonstrates a new and clear intent to support arts education in our country. This is an exciting shift from previous legislation, because it specifically enumerates music and the arts as integral parts of a “Well-Rounded Education.” The ESSA changes the tone from exclusionary “Core Academic Subject” language of the past, officially acknowledging for the first time in history what decades of research have shown – that arts education is essential to a student’s success. In addition, the ESSA creates flexibility of funding usage in Title I and Title IV programs. Schools will now be able to assess their needs for providing well-rounded education, including music, and request federal funds to be used for the same. Music and art in schools will be supported and protected like never before!
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Help us to spread the word and usher in the coming age of ESSA! Get educated about the details of ESSA so that you can speak to colleagues and administrators about how this will improve schools and build a better future for our children. Find resources at the National Association for Music Education (www.nafme.org/essa) – you can get an ESSA tool kit, read extended articles about the ongoing challenges in transitioning to ESSA and take a very informative webinar about the act (http://www.nafme.org/take-action/elementary-and-secondary-education-act-esea-updates/). The Iowa Alliance for Arts Education (www.iowaalliance4artsed.org) also has great resources for helping us to move the pieces into place.