National Music Council Joins 95 Other National Organizations to Support Arts Education as Essential for Students during COVID-19 Pandemic
As policymakers plan for school reopening in the fall, the National Music Council (NMC) has joined 95 other organizations in a statement that supports an arts education for all students.
In the statement, “Arts Education Is Essential,” the signing organizations convey that the arts have already played a pivotal and uplifting role during the health crisis, and that arts education can help all students, including those who are in traditionally underrepresented groups, as students return to school next year.
“Arts Education Is Essential” speaks to arts education’s role in supporting the social and emotional well-being of students, an area that administrators, educators, and parents have highlighted as essential to student safety and success during the pandemic and as students return to school, whether in-person, online, or in a blended fashion, this fall. Arts education also creates a welcoming school environment and a healthy and inclusive school community, helping students, educators, parents, and the community at large build and strengthen their connectedness during this time of social isolation and social distancing.
The statement also reminds the public that arts education is a part of a well-rounded education as defined by the federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and supported in state laws throughout the country. Forty-six states require an arts credit to receive a high school diploma, and 43 states have instructional requirements in the arts in elementary and secondary schools.
“The tragedy of the COViD-19 pandemic is a disturbing reality for students across the nation,” stated NMC Chair Charles J. Sanders. “The stresses it is placing not only on the students, but on the education system itself, are profound. But this is also a time when the importance of music and arts education truly shines through, easing young minds and raising spirits with assurances that only the arts can provide. That is the principle we aim to demonstrate, and the one that we will champion.”
NMC member NAfME has been helping music educators prepare for the return to school in the fall. Advocacy and support efforts include:
1. A “Music Education and Social-Emotional Learning” brochure, outlining how music education can support quality social-emotional learning outcomes for students.
2. Instrument hygiene guidelines in partnership with the NAMM Foundation and the National Federation of State High School Associations, explaining how instruments can be safely returned and cleaned for use next school year.
3. Dozens of high-quality professional development webinars, featuring ways in which to teach music successfully in a virtual setting, as well as additional resources to support standards-based music instruction.
4. A public advocacy campaign to support federal funds to backfill state education budget shortfalls. More than 10,000 letters have been sent to Congress, urging our lawmakers to support public education.
5. A forthcoming guide to school reopening plans, featuring how music can be taught safely and effectively to students both in-person and virtually next school year.
The music and arts education community has been active during this pandemic in providing administrators, educators, and other stakeholders guidance and support, as well as forward-thinking planning for music educators and district arts supervisors to take a lead as school districts make plans for the next school year. In any decision about how school districts will operate in the next and future school years, music and arts education will be essential in providing all students equitable educational opportunities that also continue to prepare them for an ever-changing world.
To add your voice to this statement, your organization can sign on to the statement by emailing Essential@nafme.org.