Velázquez Seeks to Boost Music Education
In era of Trump Cuts, Announces Bill to Expand Access to Music Education in Underserved Schools
Washington, DC- Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) has introduced legislation to make music education more affordable and accessible in America’s schools. Her bill, the Guarantee Access to Arts & Music Education (GAAME) Act would expand Title 1 funds to help underserved elementary and secondary schools implement meaningful and enriching music education.
“The role of music and art in a child’s development cannot be forgotten—especially in schools where funding is limited and budgets are stretched,” said Velázquez. “I am proud to introduce legislation that would open the doors for enriching music education in these schools and help to ensure that all children are exposed to the joy and benefits of learning music.”
Aside from expanding the traditional classroom experience, music education has proven to improve a student’s speech and reading skills, ability to feel empathy and attention span. Furthermore, one study shows that students who participated in at least nine hours of arts education per week were four times more likely to have been recognized for academic achievement than their peers. In 2016, the score gap between white and Hispanic students narrowed as participation in arts activities rose from 2008.
Velázquez’s bill, H.R. 6137, would amend the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to further emphasize arts and music education, unlocking important federal dollars under Title 1. Title 1 funds are the largest source of funding under the ESSA and are designed to provide equal opportunity to economically and socially disadvantaged students. The GAAME Act has been endorsed by 31 organizations including the National Association for Music Education. It also has 37 original co-sponsors in the House.
“As an Association, our mission has always been to promote the understanding and making of music by all. When music was enumerated as part of a “well-rounded education,” we became one step closer to achieving that goal, and the Guarantee Access to Arts and Music Education Act (GAAME) will continue that same trajectory,” said Mike Blakeslee, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Association for Music Education. “This legislation will encourage school districts to use their Title I, Part A funds to improve student access to a sequential and standards-based music education for disadvantaged and low-income students. NAfME is committed to supporting these students, who all deserve access to and equity in the delivery of music education.”
As the Trump Administration pushes an agenda of draconian cuts to the arts and humanities, Velázquez is working to expand opportunities for art teachers and students. In addition to introducing the GAAME Act, Velázquez is the author of the American Arts Revival Act, which offers student loan relief to artistic professionals who provide services for seniors, children or adolescents.
“Instead of putting arts education on the chopping block, we must recognize it for what it is—a vital public service,” said Velázquez. “I urge Congress to pass the GAAME Act and help me ensure that children from all backgrounds can experience the benefits of learning music in their classrooms.”