Music Educators Celebrate Passage of Every Student Succeeds Act, ESSA, Today

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With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA (S. 1177), and its expected signature by President Obama, it is a new day for music education, and music educators are celebrating with the hashtags #MusicStandsAlone and #ESSA. The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) has been at the forefront of engaging music education advocates to push this bill to the finish line, and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) out the door.

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Music education is serious business on Capitol Hill now, and music educators are the reason.

More than 140,000 Music Educators and Music Supporters Celebrate the Passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, Elevating Music as a Stand-Alone Subject

“Music matters.” That is the resounding message coming from the Senate’s passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) [S.1177] on Tuesday, December 9, 2015, with a vote of 85 to 12. “This reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is more than seven years overdue,” noted Christopher Woodside, Assistant Executive Director of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). “More historic is that for the first time ever, music is enumerated in federal statute as a stand-alone subject, explicitly listed among the components of a well-rounded education for all students.”

“For decades, NAfME has been devoted to music education advocacy,” said Woodside. “A fundamental commitment to ensuring that every student, regardless of circumstance, has access to a high quality program of music instruction, taught by a certified music educator, is written in the DNA of this organization. Today, that dream is one major step closer to becoming a reality. With the President’s signature, hopefully in the days to come, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) will be no more.”

“The passion of the NAfME membership fully drives the institution’s advocacy and public policy work,” Woodside continued. “Throughout the process of pursuing ESEA reauthorization, NAfME members sent more than 20,000 letters to Capitol Hill in support of including a stand-alone listing for music. Those letters mattered. That passion resonated. Music education is serious business on Capitol Hill now, and music educators are the reason.”

NAfME has mobilized its membership and their supporters to direct phone calls and letters to their legislators, supporting music education. This year, music and arts education advocacy reached a new milestone when the Senate, on the eve of NAfME’s 108th anniversary in April, listed music as a stand-alone subject in the draft ESEA bill.

This past June more than 70 Collegiate NAfME members joined State Music Education Association leaders in visiting the offices of U.S. Senators and Representatives to advocate for music education. It was also a moment to say “thank you” for recognizing music in draft legislation. Over the summer and this past fall, NAfME kept advocates abreast of news from Capitol Hill with updates—most recently its “Everything ESSA” ( resource page.

“To be at the end of this long process of getting ESSA to the finish line and on the President’s desk to be signed into law, with ‘music’ listed in the ‘well-rounded education’ provision,” said Woodside, “is like being at the top of the mountain. This is a moment for all music educators and music advocates to celebrate.” In this new education climate, NAfME will provide training and resources ensuring music educators are completely prepared to teach music under the new law.


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.

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For additional information, contact Catherina Hurlburt at catherinah(at)nafme(dot)org or 703-860-4000, ext. 242.

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