Impact of the ESSA Act
In 2015, The Obama Administration re-enacted the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
“The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was passed as a part of United States President Lyndon B. Johnson's "War on Poverty" and has been the most far-reaching federal legislation affecting education ever passed by the United States Congress.” Wikipedia.
Its predecessor, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) promised that all students would be at or on grade level by 2014 — now we know that this formula of testing students at grade level doesn’t increase student engagement and achievement. What does increase these attributes of student growth is the language that defines the ‘‘well-rounded learner” as initiated by the ESSA Act of 2015.. As an advocate and student of Music Education, I’ve researched and developed teaching strategies to improve the quality of Music instruction for all my students — the ESSA Act had arrived on my doorstep and I was prepared to take action.
Reflecting upon my own education, I realize that the opportunities I had back then are not available to modern students. This disparity has colored my approach to education to this day.
When that first set of drumsticks was placed in my young hands, I knew that was what I wanted to do. As I matured and grew into a musician and teacher, my philosophy has been grounded on providing all students with the opportunities that I credit with giving me the focus and direction that turned my life around.
Once I became a teacher, I started to parse out what exactly it was about music that changed my life. I realized that not everyone could be a musician, but every child could benefit from a music education. I began to look at studies that correlated learning music and playing an instrument with increased proficiency in math. This synergy between my childhood music education and my adult research and teaching experience led to the development of my philosophy and program: Music in Everything.
The name Music in Everything was inspired from the time I spent immersed in the jazz scene in Greenwich Village. One night, listening to a band while waiting for a chance to play, I noticed a sign behind the bandstand, “Music is everything.” It got me thinking that, yes, music is everything. Not just to me, but in the larger scheme of things. I couldn’t get this expression out of my mind. Turning the statement around, I began asking everyone, including fellow educators and musicians, “What is music not?” The conversation always came back to the same thing. Music is a collection of sounds that are organized in a unified way. And sounds are everywhere from the sound of rain to the honking of a car horn. There is nothing that is not music, music is everything.
As I developed my educational philosophy, this idea was never far away. As I read studies on the impacts of music education on other subjects such as math and science, I also realized that music matters with other subjects as well. Putting music IN everything would create a well-rounded, unified educational experience as a pathway to empowerment.
In 2016, I joined the Middle School Jazz Academy (MSJA ) at Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) as teaching artist / instructor. Todd Stoll, Vice President of Jazz Education at JALC, had written an article about the ESSA Act in TIME Magazine. That same year during the first week of professional development for returning teachers (PD), I was prepared to inquire about Title I funds under the the guidelines of the new education law .