May 8, 2018

Music as a Core Subject

On December 10, 2015, Music and the Arts were finally given the title as a Core Subject in American Education with the passing of the Every Student Succeeds Act (S. 1177).

By naming music and arts as core subjects in the Every Child Achieves Act, the Senate has acknowledged and begun to address the national problem of the narrowing of the curriculum that has taken place under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) for more than a decade now.

– “Senate Passes Every Child Achieves Act, with Musica and Arts as Core Subjects” (from NAfME.org)

Why do we care?

For too long, music (and the Arts) have been delegated to something “other than” or “extra” that a student can explore if (and only when) it doesn’t get in the way of their “real learning” in math, science, or reading. It is delegated to a place where what is learned may not even be worthy of anyone’s time or can easily be brushed away at the slightest inconvenience. Or perhaps, at best, music learning isn’t necessary for its own sake but instead is necessary to help with math skills or reading literacy. Our society has the misconception that music has little to offer other than it might improve reading and math skills.

Unfortunately, here at MSN we even go as far to categorize these classes as “Core” or “Encore” further exacerbating the belief that certain endeavors are more worthy than others. In “Core” we have Math, Reading, Social Studies, Reading, and Literature. In “Encore” we lump together Music, Visual Art, Drama, Computers, Applied Technology, Family & Consumer Science, World Cultures, Physical Education, and Health. With these two terms we are communicating a hierarchy of subjects where we can (if we had to) simply eliminate or diminish one of the Encore classes.

Fortunately, the Every Student Achieves Act elevates Music and the Arts as a Core subject on par with Math, Reading, Social Studies, Reading, and Literature.