Music Education Policy Updates

Latest Update:

5/27/21: U.S. Dept. Ed Issues Guidance for the ESSER and the GEER Programs, including Funding for Music and Arts Programs

Background: Since 2020, Congress has allocated COVID relief funding through the Education Stabilization Fund, for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER).

This week the U.S. Department of Education issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to address how funding under the ESSER Fund, including the American Rescue Plan (ARP), and the GEER Fund may be used in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students in pre-K-12 education.

The FAQs cover the allowable use of ESSER and GEER funds, including recommendations specific to music and arts programs: "An LEA might also address the needs of students arising from the COVID-19 pandemic by using ESSER and GEER funds to implement or expand arts programs, such as music programs, including purchasing instruments…” pg. 30 - How may an LEA use ESSER and GEER funds to support students’ social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs, including by hiring support personnel such as nurses, counselors, and social workers?

Other than statutory and regulatory requirements cited in the document, guidance generally does not have the force of law.  Guidance, however, often provides clarity on policies and how funding may be accessed or used. 

CALL TO ACTION: Since Governors have wide discretion in determining the entities in the State that will receive GEER funds, NAMM urges advocates to use the email template to reach out to their respective Governor, encouraging him or her  to ensure that every child receives the needed resources and support from school and community for their education and developmental needs, including access to robust music and arts education programs.

Additional information and updates may be found on the Department’s website below or by e-mail to  for questions related to ESSER, or  for questions related to GEER.

NAMM Advocacy Resources: 


  • 5/27/21: Music Advocacy Action Alerts for the Return To School

    As students return to in-person learning, State and Federal lawmakers, and education leaders must be urged to meet all students' needs and assure opportunities for a well-rounded education, including music and the arts.

    Three easy action steps:

    Step 1 Remind your State and Federal lawmakers that all students must have access to a well-rounded education that includes Music and the Arts as students return to in-school learning.

    Use these easy template tools to contact your State Representatives and your Federal Representatives. Please consider customizing your messages and sharing this information with your local elected officials and community leaders via your personal email outreach and social media postings.

    Step 2 Visit the Arts ARE Education campaign site and:

    • Sign the Pledge. Any individual and/or organization can sign.
    • Reach out to your School District and ask them to pass the Arts ARE Education Resolution
    • Reach out to your music educator network and ask them to: Sign the Pledge; Urge their district school board to pass the Resolution, and spread the word.

    Step 3 Start a conversation with your School or District Administrators. Remind them that we must include and music and arts education as we address the health, social, and emotional well-being of all students as they return to school. Big decisions for the Fall 2021 school season are being made now. Let’s work to remind our public servants that Arts ARE Education. Now more than ever.

  • 3/25/21: U.S. Dept. of Ed Issues State ARP ESSER Award Notification

    This week the U.S. Department of Education issued a Grant Award Notification providing immediate access to two-thirds of each state’s allocation under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund. The remaining funds will become available after the submission of state applications next month.

    Secretary Cardona has called on states to use ARP funding to offer crucial evidence-based summer, afterschool, and other extended learning and enrichment programs; support early childhood education; invest in staff capacity and avoid devastating layoffs. (Register for the U.S. Dept of Ed 3/29/21 Summer Learning Webinar)

    State educational agencies and school districts are developing plans to expend these funds and this planning must receive input from stakeholders and the public.

    Action Alert: NAMM members are urged to contact their State Lawmakers and local school districts now to ensure that Music and Arts education is included in all plans for in-person and remote education this summer and the 2021-22 school year.

  • 3/17/21: US Dept of Education Announces ARP Fund Allocations

    The U.S. Department of Education announced today the amount of American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act funding that each state, PR and DC will receive to reopen K-12 schools safely this month, as well as equitably expand opportunity for students who need it most. The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding is being made available to State education agencies for schools to implement health and safety measures consistent with CDC guidance and to address the teaching and learning disruptions resulting from the pandemic.

    Today’s announcement supplements previous State Allocation announcements from the US Dept. of Education: ESSER I in Dec. 2020, and ESSER II in Jan. 2021.

    NAMM members are urged to contact their state, and local school officials to assure that all students – remote and in person – have access to a well-rounded education that includes music and the arts.

    Read the March 17, ARP ESSER fact sheet and allocation tables.

  • 3/2/21: NAMM Advocacy Alert Webinar Recording

    Become a champion for music education as part of March Music in Our School Month. Together, we must remind elected officials on the federal, state, and local levels along with school administrators that music instruction is essential part of a well-rounded education for all students and must be included in all back-to-school plans.

    An advocacy briefing webinar took place on March 2 to overview targeted and general outreach to Members of Congress. During the webinar, key messages, action steps and templates were provided, for immediate outreach to elected officials. 

    We envision a world in which the joy of making music is a precious element of daily living for everyone; a world in which every child has a deep desire to learn music and a recognized right to be taught, and in which every adult is a passionate champion and defender of that right.  Please join us as we work together now more than ever to make this vision a reality.

  • 7/7/20: NAMM Advocacy Webinar Featuring John B. King, Jr., former Secretary of Education at the U.S. Department of Education

    Watch the Webinar

    “If you’re not at the table you’re on the menu” - Mary Luehrsen, Executive Director of The NAMM Foundation  

    Join us on July 7 to hear from special guest John B. King, Jr., former Secretary of Education at the U.S. Department of Education and current CEO of The Education Trust, an equity-driven, data-centered, student-focused organization of “Fierce advocates for the high academic achievement of all students—particularly those of color or living in poverty.” His experience as former Secretary of Education and as President and CEO of The Education Trust will provide invaluable insight into how to effect change through concentrated, authentic outreach from community members. King’s leadership and commitment to equity and access to education for all children is a great resource and will be a “call to action” for how to contribute with passion and commitment to bring music education to all children. 

    Attendees will also receive music education advocacy updates during break-out sessions where working advocates will report on their activity at the Federal, State, and Local levels.  

    Host: Mary Luehrsen, Director of Public Affairs, NAMM and Executive Director, The NAMM Foundation

    Special Guest: John B. King, Jr., former Secretary of Education at the U.S. Department of Education and current CEO of The Education Trust

    John B. King, Jr. is the president and CEO of The Education Trust, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to identify and close educational opportunity and achievement gaps. King served as U.S. Secretary of Education in the Obama administration. Prior to that role, King carried out the duties of Deputy Secretary, overseeing policies and programs related to P-12 education, English learners, special education, innovation, and agency operations. King joined the department following his post as New York State Education Commissioner. King began his career as a high school social studies teacher and middle school principal.

  • U.S. Department of Ed Issues COVID-19 Handbook

    The U.S. Department of Education has issued a COVID-19 Handbook, Volume I, to support school re-opening. The handbook cites schools should continue to offer music, performing arts, physical education, health education, and athletics programs as part of a well-rounded education for all students during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

    Specifically, the handbook outlines mitigations for music instruction, including: “For music and performing arts, CDC recommends masks be worn by all students and staff when not playing an instrument that requires the use of their mouth (unless the program is outdoors and at least 6 feet of distance can be maintained). When singing, individuals should wear a mask. Schools can consider holding music and performing arts classes outside or in an open environment or under an open tent, if safe from other hazards, such as heat, cold, and air pollution. If the class is held indoors, ensure that it occurs in healthy facilities, including by optimizing previously described, cohorting/podding is another option to minimize class size. Teachers can use a portable amplifier to keep voices at a low, conversational volume and should limit the exchange (or sharing) of any instruments, parts, music sheets, or any other items. Depending on the instrument, disposable absorbent pads or other receptacles, where possible, should be provided to catch the contents of spit valves. Teachers can consider using “bell covers” for the openings of brass instruments and specially designed bags* with hand openings for woodwind instruments to minimize the generation of droplets and aerosols.”

    The guidance also recommends that planning for school reopening should include student and parent representatives so that specific interests and legal requirements are considered in the early stages of planning.

    ED will release additional volumes of the Handbook providing specific strategies to address the extraordinary disruption created by COVID-19 for students, educators, and parents – especially for historically underserved students and communities that preliminary data suggest have been hit hardest by the pandemic. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also will be issuing resources to support early childhood education providers.

    *NAMM is monitoring this issue closely and is working with partner organizations to request changes and updates to CDC and the U.S. Dept of Ed Handbook recommendations for ongoing music education to meet the learning and health needs of all students. Check this site frequently for updates.

    More information may be found here: U.S. Department of Education 

  • CDC Issues Roadmap for School Reopening

    On February 12, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated guidance providing a “roadmap” to assist school districts and educators in making decisions on whether to fully or partially reopen schools and the type of safeguards needed to keep students, teachers, and staff safe during the pandemic.

    The CDC guidance indicates that schools can safely reopen as long as they are in an area considered low to moderate transmission and if a number of precautions are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The update is based on data, building on earlier recommendations on the most effective safety precautions including masks, physical distancing, hand washing, respiratory etiquette, contract tracing, ventilation, and building cleaning.

    The guidance notes, “If mitigation strategies are strictly adhered to, K-12 schools can safely open for in-person instruction and remain open. In addition, the association between COVID-19 incidence and outbreaks in school settings and levels of community transmission underscores the importance of controlling disease spread in the community to protect teachers, staff, and students in schools.”

    The CDC reiterated that states should prioritize teachers for vaccination but with the proviso that such vaccinations are not required for reopening.

    The newly-released guidance does not vary widely from previously-issued CDC recommendations. It does, however, include a color-coded chart / fact sheet with four zones that, depending on the color, provides recommendations for a school district’s re-opening options. Blue indicates districts with low community spread of the coronavirus and yellow is for districts with data showing moderate transmission. These areas are encouraged to consider full reopening.

    Schools in areas with substantial transmission – the color orange – could consider limited reopening – but only in combination with significant classroom safety strategies. Red is for areas with the highest transmission. In these communities, limited reopening remains an option for elementary schools with strict physical distancing, but the CDC recommends middle and high schools be remote-learning only -- unless significant mitigation measures can be implemented. For further information:

    The U.S. Department of Education has also released guidance. NAMM will continue to closely monitor this important issue.

  • National Arts Ed Advocacy Campaign 

    Arts ARE Education is a new national campaign designed to support the ongoing value of music and the arts for PreK-12 students in the post-pandemic era.

    As states face budget shortfalls due to the recession created by the COVID-19 pandemic, lawmakers must be reminded of the importance of fully funding public education to support all students and their right to a well-rounded education including music and the arts. Having states commit adequate funding for public education will be the first step toward maintaining, rebuilding and growing arts programs to reach more students in the 2021-2022 school year and beyond. 

    The general public, NAMM members and their school/parent networks are encouraged to reach out to state legislators using the templated letter tool below to urge that they fully fund public education for next school year.

    State Legislator Letter Tool

    To learn about ways to connect with and support music and arts education in your own school district, please visit the Arts ARE Education campaign website for school board resolution, advocate pledge, tools and more.

    Arts Are Education website and toolkit

  • Fall 2020 Guidance for Music Education

    Created by NAMM partners, the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the Fall 2020 Guidance for Music Education document provides practical guidance for PreK-12 schools as administrators and music educators seek to provide meaningful music instruction for students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In this unique time, music educators are modifying their practices not only in teaching, but in classroom orientation, cleaning, spacing and management. It is understood that, as trained professionals, music educators want to offer the very best instruction so all students can learn and grow in their knowledge, understanding, and love of music. This guide asserts that music educators can still do that, but also acknowledges that how this teaching is delivered may be different than in the past.

    NAMM members are encouraged to distribute this valuable resource to school music networks, state and district administrators and school boards, as soon as possible.

  • “Arts Education Is Essential,” A Unified Statement from Arts and Education Organizations

    With fellow organizations working to preserve arts education, we have provided this clear statement of support for educators and other stakeholders, as you make the case with administrators and other decision-makers for your own arts program in your school district.

    Three principles are spelled out in “Arts Education Is Essential”:

    • “Arts education supports the social and emotional well-being of students, whether through distance learning or in person.”
    • “Arts education nurtures the creation of a welcoming school environment where students can express themselves in a safe and positive way.”
    • “Arts education is part of a well-rounded education for all students as understood and supported by federal and state policymakers.”

    We encourage you to share this statement with your own network, and share why you believe “Arts Education Is Essential” on social media using the hashtag #ArtsEdIsEssential and tagging your organization’s social media handle. Email if your company would like to sign on to the statement.

  • ESSA at the Local Level: NAfME's Dec. 2017 Update Webinar

    NAfME's ESSA at the Local Level Webinar, Recorded December 5, 2017

    The music community most closely associates the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, or ESSA, as the first piece of federal legislation to enumerate music as part of a “Well-Rounded Education.”  Now being implemented, learn about what to look for, what to expect, and how to get involved with ESSA at the local level. View the Webinar. 

  • Outlook for Congressional Budget and Appropriations: content/process and what to watch in Title IV

    Outlook for Congressional Budget and Appropriations: Content/process and What to Watch in Title IV 
    Written by Leo Coco, Senior Policy Advisor, Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough LLP
    Oct. 16, 2017

    Congress is in for a long and challenging October and November, and likely December. With the end of the fiscal year approaching and their work not done, last month Congress brokered a 3-prong deal with the President to fund the government through December 8, 2017, at current FY 2017 levels. This legislation is called a Continuing Resolution. It also included emergency hurricane aid and a short-term debt limit extension so the US can continue to pay its bills.  The deal provides time for Congress to work on a budget, complete the FY 2018 appropriations process to replace current funding, and to create the opportunity through budget authority to take on tax reform.  This update will provide details regarding these budget and appropriations activities as related to education.

    1.    The Budget

    The President submitted his budget to Congress early this year setting forth his spending levels and priorities, but it was considered dead on arrival.  Of particular concern was his elimination of major programs for the US Department of Education (USED), including teacher training and professional development.  His budget also canceled a new $1.6 billion block grant program to the states called the Student Achievement and Academic Enrichment Grant Program (SAAEG) to provide for a well-rounded education for students, including music.

    Keep in mind that Congress’ budget process usually begins earlier in the year in response to the President’s proposed budget.  The House and Senate Budget Committees write separate resolutions which set forth the general framework for Congressional spending and taxing levels.  These Budget Resolutions (not bills) do not have the force of law nor do they require the President’s signature.  Most important, a final budget does not provide direct funding to any department or program; rather, it mandates certain amounts of money--- about 1/3 of the total federal budget--- that Congress has the discretion to spend on specific programs, like education.

    The House of Representatives on October 5 passed a budget resolution for FY 2018 by a vote of 219 to 206, with only Republicans voting in favor.  This budget provides for total federal budget cuts of $5.4 trillion over a period of 10 years.  Of this amount, the USED will be targeted for mandatory spending cuts of $211 billion over ten years, predominantly to the student loan and Pell Grant programs.

    The Senate Budget Committee (not the full Senate) passed its budget resolution on October 5 with mandatory budget cuts for the USED that are similar to the House-passed bill.  The next step is for the full Senate to pass its budget, likely scheduled this month.

    A Budget Conference Committee will be named to reconcile differences and write a final version that must be passed individually by the House and Senate. This final budget resolution will also contain “reconciliation instructions,” a legislative process that allows for fast-track passage of certain budgetary legislation on spending, revenues, and the federal debt limit with a simple majority vote in both the House and Senate.  The Republican leaders in the House and Senate want to use these reconciliation procedures to enact tax reform legislation before the end of the year.

    2.    Appropriations

    After the budget is finalized and goals are set for spending levels, the appropriations process continues where decisions are made to distribute money to the individual agencies, including the USED.  The Senate and House Appropriations Committees write 12 separate bills that group agencies, such as the Labor-Education-Health and Human Services departments. This bill will be referred to as USED funding.  Appropriations bills are different from the budget resolution in two significant ways:  (1) only appropriations bills require the President’s signature and become law; and, (2) appropriation bills provide, at the discretion of Congress, specific spending allocations to every office of a department while the budget only sets broad spending goals.

    The appropriations process should be completed by October 1 for the start of the new fiscal year, but Congress has not yet completed a budget for FY 2018 nor has it completed work on the 12 appropriations bills.  This is a tall order to meet the deadline of December 8 when funding for the government runs out.  Here is where things stand:

    The House of Representatives passed on September 14 an omnibus FY 2018 appropriations bill that included all 12 government funding bills, including funding for the USED.  It funds USED at an estimated $66 billion, which is $2.4 billion or 3.3% below the FY2017 levels.  Overall USED funding would be cut in the bill, but there are some programs that would see increases compared to current funding levels, including the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants ($500 million with an increase of $100 million).  It is significant that the House recognizes and funds this important grant program to provide students with a well-rounded education, including music education among other subjects, especially since the President proposed to eliminate it.   However, the program is authorized in ESSA at $1.6 billion.

    During debate on the omnibus appropriations bill, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) offered an amendment to urge Congress to fund the SSAEG program at the full authorization level ($1.6 billion) to assure a well-rounded education for all students.  The amendment does not increase funding but calls important attention to the need to increase funding significantly in future years.  The amendment passed on a voice vote (not recorded).

    Also of interest, Title I funding levels (for low-income school districts) are maintained in the bill, but Title II, Part A  funds to promote professional development and teaching quality are eliminated.

    The Senate Appropriations Committee has completed work on 8 of the 12 spending bills, including one for funding the USED, but none have been considered by the full Senate.  Funding for USED in FY 2018 is set at $68.3 billion ($29 million increase or a 0.1% increase above FY 2017 spending levels).   It includes $450 million for the SSAEG grant program (an increase of $50 million), $15.5 billion ($40 million increase) for Title 1 (low income school districts), and $2.1 billion ($44 million increase) for Title II,Part A for effective teaching and professional development.

    3.    Next Steps in the Process

    Congress must complete the budget and appropriations processes before the Continuing Resolution expires on December 8--- less than two months away.  Here are the most likely scenarios:

    •    Congress has indicated it wants to increase the spending caps for FY 2018 appropriations.  The chairmen of the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees (for education funding) support an increase in spending for their bills.  Congress must negotiate a budget deal to allow that to happen.  If successful, it makes it more likely they will be able to pass the appropriations bills.

    •    Congress is deadlocked and fails to reach a budget deal and decides to move forward with another Continuing Resolution through the rest of FY 2018.  This would require slight reductions in spending from current FY 2017 levels to be made either across-the-board or to specific programs.

    •    Congress decides to continue working to complete a budget deal and passes a short-term continuing resolution.

    We will provide an update on the status of the Congressional Budget and Appropriations in December.  Stay tuned.

  • ESSA Update: New Template for State ESSA Plans Released by the Department of Education

    Updated: March 24, 2017

    In a letter delivered to chief state school officers, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos issued information for implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The letter included an updated template for the consolidated state plans, as well as provided two deadlines for states to submit their plans to the US Department of Education for review and approval: April 3 or September 18, 2017.

    Of note is that the new template eliminates the requirement that state education policy leaders must reach out to a variety of stakeholders, such as teachers, parents, community and business leaders, and policymakers.  To be clear, ESSA guidelines still require stakeholder input, but the U.S. Department of Education does not require this input to be addressed in the revised template states must submit outlining their plan for implementation.

    NAfME’s Director of Public Policy and Professional Development, Lynn Tuttle explains: “Within the law itself, there are requirements for state plans that the state must address to the U.S. Department of Education. The earlier template asked the states to define what they were doing with stakeholder engagement and how they responded to that information collected from the stakeholders. That request, while a good practice, was not required in the law. The law merely requires that states sign a checklist saying they have done this work. The Department has stated in the template that they will request assurances from the states at a later date.”

    Tuttle continues, “This administration is clearly signaling that it will only require what is in the law, and the administration is signaling what it feels is most important by focusing on those items in the template first, then working through the assurances, then the academic standards/assessments, the toughest part of the whole lot, if you ask me.”

    Our partners at NAfME have a new template for music and arts advocates based on the revised one from the U.S. Department of Education. Keep in mind that states which submitted for April (or even the September deadline!) may use the original template if they include the additional areas required in the new one. Here are 3 areas where state advocacy coalitions can focus:

    1. Music is part of a well-rounded education. If your state has already listed music/arts as part of a well-rounded education in the original template, we suggest that you keep that language in the new template, placing it where it makes most sense.

    2. School quality and student success indicator. With the accountability rules removed from the new template, this indicator, which could include music education-friendly measures, is again wide open based on the flexible language found in the law. Even under the old template, many states were looking at music and arts access and participation rates as measures here. We urge music and arts education advocates to continue to work to include measures of access, equity and opportunity as defined by instructional time and presence of high quality teachers in state AND local education plans.  If there is more flexibility, then let’s push in and assure that flexibility leans towards opportunities for a well-rounded education for all children – one that includes music and the arts.

    EdWeek blog on this topic.

    3. Title IV support. Advocates can request that your state use its Title IV funding to support music and arts education at the state level.

    Even with these changes our work remains essentially the same as it has been since the passage of ESSA. According to Alyson Klein with Education Week, Senator Lamar Alexander, an ESSA architect, thinks ESSA could be around for decades.

    NAMM will continue to post relevant updates here and it is more important than ever to share updates for our State Coalition Dashboard. As always, we are standing by to assist you in your advocacy efforts.

    Related resources:

    NAfME ESSA Blog “March Madness: ESSA State Plans with Less Federal Oversight”

    U.S. Department of Education Resources “ESSA Consolidated State Plans”

    Education Week Blog “Trump Education Dept. Releases New ESSA Guidelines”

    Education Week Blog “No, Congress Didn't Vote to Scrap ESSA: Answers to Your FAQs”

  • 8 Things to Ponder in the 2016 Election Season

    The most important thing we have learned in our advocacy efforts is that relationships matter.  Whether Democrat, Republican or Independent, we are able to work with policymakers--- at all levels of government--- to advance music and arts education.  As the post-Labor Day election season is here, it is important to inventory candidates and staff at every level--- from presidential to congressional to gubernatorial to state legislators.

    Armed with evidence-based research and sound reasoning, we have communicated the importance of providing students with access to a well-rounded education, including access to quality music and arts programs.  Our efforts have been successful as a result of your tenacity and passion and getting to know your elected representatives. As the post-Labor Day election season is here, it is important to inventory candidates and staff at every level--- from presidential to congressional to gubernatorial to state legislators.  Regarding music and arts education, it is critical that we (1) research their policies and platforms, (2) identify opportunities to participate in candidate events and reach out to their campaigns, and (3) leverage influence with candidates we know and build relationships with future elected officials.   To guide your communication efforts in the coming weeks, below is a snapshot of major issues and elections at all levels of government in November.

    Major National Campaign Issues

    There are 4 major issues that Republican and Democratic voters agree should be top priorities of the presidential candidates:  jobs and the economy; terrorism and national security; healthcare; and education.  Ninety percent of Democrats consider education extremely/very important to 67% of Republicans (Gallup 2016 Benchmark Survey).

    Key Point:   Higher education issues, particularly college access and student debt are capturing the attention of voters, but implementation of ESSA slated for the 2017-2018 school year are timely and relevant to policymakers at all levels, especially in what role they may have in developing individual state plans.

    Relevance of Music and Arts Education

    Passage of the new federal law Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and its implementation at the state and local levels is a bridge to conversations with candidates. These elected officials are charged with oversight and development of state plans at the state and local levels and oversight of implementation guidance at the federal level.

    Key Point:  Congress mandates in the new ESSA law that students be provided with a well- rounded education.  For the first time Music is listed in the law as one of the academic subjects that contributes to a well-rounded education.  Now is the time to advocate for access to music and arts education during this ongoing process of state plan development.

    Presidential Candidates: Policies and Party Platforms on Music/Arts Education

    Hillary Clinton supports music and arts education being taught in the classroom and believes an investment in music and the arts is an investment in the future of children.  She has indicated that music and arts can be transformational in the lives of all children when fully funded and supported. 

    Key Quote: "That is why it is not only something that is the right thing to do---supporting arts education--- but it's the smart thing for our nation, for both the public sector and the private sector.  Because we are by doing so, doing one of the things that we know will pay off the most in making children better able to learn." (White House, 1998 Arts Education Meeting)

    Donald Trump supports a well-rounded education.  He opposes the US Department of Education determining how education dollars are spent for music and the arts, or otherwise.

    Key Quote:  "Critical thinking skills, the ability to read, write and do basic math are still the keys to economic success.  A holistic education that includes literature and the arts is just as critical to creating good citizens."  (Washington Post interview 2016)

    In the party platforms ratified at their conventions, the Democratic Party platform includes:  "Democrats are proud of our support for arts funding and education.  We will continue to support public funding for…. programs providing art and music education in primary and secondary schools… and high quality STEAM programs".  There is no specific reference to music/arts education in the Republican Party platform.

    Congressional Elections

    All 435 seats in the US House of Representatives will be up for election this year.  Forty-three of these House seats are "open" since the incumbent is not seeking election.  Thirty-four US Senate seats are up for reelection, 24 Republicans and 10 Democrats.  At this point in time, speculation is that the House will remain a Republican majority, and the Senate could flip to a Democratic majority given the larger number of contested Senate Republicans up for reelection.

    Key Point:  This is an opportunity to reach out to your US representatives to reinforce your position on music and the arts as well-rounded subjects as mandated in the new federal law.

    Gubernatorial Elections

    Twelve governorships are up for election this year with 8 of them being now held by Democrats. Governors from the following states will be elected in 2016: DE, IN, MO, MT, NH, NC, ND, OR, UT, VT, WA, WV (the 4 in bold are the most closely watched elections.)

    Key Point:  This is an important time to reach out to the candidates for governor in these states to advocate for music and arts education as a vital part of ESSA state plans to provide a well-rounded education.  In the new law, Governors are required to sign off on their state plans giving them substantial influence in developing and approving them.

    State Legislative Elections

    Forty-two of the 50 state senates are holding elections this year as are 44 of the 49 state houses.  Altogether, 5,920 (80.2%) of the country's 7,383 state legislative seats are up for election during this election year.  The following states are NOT holding state legislative elections this year:  AL, LA, MD, MS, NJ, VA.  In Michigan, only elections to the state House will be held.

    Key Point:  Your local senators and representatives to your state legislature are important relationships to develop and maintain.  Some may serve on the legislature's education committees and others may have influence with the governor and other local officials who are active in developing your state plan for ESSA implementation.

    Deciding on Your Involvement

    There are many opportunities for participation in these elections.  It is important to distinguish between volunteering on a campaign and communicating with a campaign.  While you may choose to do both, your efforts here are directed at communications to raise awareness and provide information on the issue of music and arts education to all candidates seeking election--- Democratic, Independent, Republican.  It is important to recognize that Congress has completed its legislative work on ESSA, that the current Administration is developing guidance for the states to implement the new law, that state governors and legislators (and other stakeholders, like you) will be developing the plans through most of next year.  The next President will appoint a new US Secretary of Education who will oversee the continued implementation.

    Key Point:  Decide which elections this year are the most important to you--- federal, state or local--- and develop strategies to contact those particular candidates or staff.  Your input can be provided in-person at town hall meetings, at an appointment or other events; by emailing or calling campaign offices; and communications/comments via campaign websites.

    Presidential Transition

    The presidential candidates have already formed committees to plan for the next Administration.  Donald Trump has appointed NJ Governor Chris Christie to lead his transition team and former Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers will likely lead the national security group within the transition team.  Hillary Clinton has appointed former Colorado Senator and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to lead her team, along with former National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm.  The committees begin early to forge a smooth and successful transition for whoever wins the presidency.

    Key Point:  While there will be more that 4,000 appointments made by a new Administration, the most significant in terms of music and arts education will be the new Secretary of Education, the head of the National Endowment of the Arts, and other senior officials named to those agencies.  We will monitor closely. 

    Written By: Leo Coco, Senior Policy Advisor, Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough LLP

  • "The Every Student Succeeds Act Implementation Progress" Educational Webinar Series Is Now Available

    The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) federal education law that was enacted in 2015 defines music as part of a “well-rounded education.” Implementation of the law and distribution of funds is scheduled for the 2017-2018 school year, and to get ready to submit their plans state education entities are collecting information from their community members. This is where you come in! State education associations are holding “listening tours” across the U.S. in town hall-style meetings and/or they are accepting input by email or via web-based surveys. Action is needed now to ensure that every student in your state benefits from new opportunities in music education under Title I and Title IV funding.

    NAMM has partnered with Americans for the Arts to connect NAMM Members with arts advocacy organizations in their states and to educate them about the definition of a “well-rounded education” that now includes music and the arts. This is an exciting chapter of education in America, but you must make your voice heard!

    The AFTA team has been traveling the country to work with music and arts advocacy leaders and NAMM Members from several states to find out what connections have already been made and how NAMM and AFTA can help. As a result of these fact-finding tours, AFTA has created a three-part series on ESSA's implementation progress that covers how to:

    • Form a team to promote music and arts as part of a “well-rounded education”
    • Draft an “ask” document to gain support for music and the arts from decision makers
    • Incorporate music and arts into new state accountability systems

    Whether you are a new or an experienced advocate, this is a great place to start as you ramp up your music education advocacy activities in your state. Please enjoy these webinars and share with your network.  Find out how to access the webinars using these instructions, and read a note from Jeff Poulin