Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Music Stands Alone

Today was a big day for music education in America. When I went to check my email during my planning period I found a little gem of an email from National Association for Music Education sharing the news about the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Pending the President's signature this now makes No Child Left Behind a thing of the past. So why is this an exciting, top of the mountain moment, doing back flips down the hallway moment for music educators? Because it includes a stand alone listing for music. I have linked below the news release from NAfME over the topic.

There are so many exciting features with this passage. I love being able to educate the whole child. Part of this simply comes from my own experiences as a student. I am the beginning of the NCLB age. As I was entering middle school and high school the expectations of students and teachers in the areas of math and reading started to ramp up intensity. I'm not great at math. I once had a teacher that said I would never be good at math and I believed it. After that moment math had always been an up hill battle. I hated when I had to be pulled out of my choir class to go work on math. I love being able as an educator to offer up so many opportunities for students to be creative. Where they have a safe place to explore their voices, create high quality music, and perform. Nothing brings me more joy then when I see students that struggle in other classroom areas succeed and thrive in my class. I'm so blessed that I'm in working situation where I can educate the whole child, but I know of many of my fellow music educators do not have that same opportunity. With the passage of Every Student Succeeds Act, this ensures that all students will have access to a well-rounded education.

The language of ESSA also makes music a "well-rounded subject." So what does this mean? Every child, no matter what, has access to music. What else does this mean? Schools can use federal funds for their music programs. It absolutely breaks my heart when I hear stories of school music programs being cut, hopefully this could be a thing of the past. Many of my fellow #oklaed bloggers have said that I'm full of unicorns and rainbows, but I'm also a realist. I understand that is an up hill battle that will take some time, but this unicorns and rainbows lover hopes that it will be a smooth transition and children will have access music and art once again.

Another thing that I'm a fan of is new the flexibility accountability system. Music and Fine Arts in general don't really fit the mold of most evaluation tools. Being able to include areas of evaluation such as student and parent engagement and school climate and culture as measurable tools is pretty exciting!

This next part...this is going to take time. Protection from class pull outs. The language does not say that students cannot be pulled from music and art classes for remediation, but it only discourages it. Which means it can still happen, and will happen. I see and understand the reasoning behind doing remediation because kids need to know how to read and they need understanding in math, but creative kids in to be creative. Hopefully this new season will provide for schools to find ways to be creative in providing the remediation services that kids need as well as providing quality fine arts education!

This is an exciting day for music teachers. This is an exciting day for all teachers. I saw a tweet from one music educator stating how excited she is that she now feels valid. While this is so exciting, I never needed an act of Congress to tell me that I'm valid and that what I teach is valid. Music changed my life, in fact it is still changing my life. How do I know what I'm doing is valid? I look in the eyes of my students. I see how learning choral music is changing them. I see the joy and hear the joy in the music that we are making. While having these new things and new supports is exciting, this doesn't change what I am doing right now. Tomorrow I will still wake up in the morning, and teach kids how to sing. I will still do what is best for kids and love them like crazy! So to my fellow music educators, be happy and celebrate this day, but more importantly keep doing what you are doing. It is being noticed and it is being celebrated. Go forth and change the world music educators!

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