OSSINING, N.Y. -- For the sixth year in a row, the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation has named the Ossining school district one of the nation's "Best Communities for Music Education."
Ossining is one of the 476 school districts nationally and 131 in New York recognized for outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders to ensure students have access to music learning.
"We're so pleased to receive this designation again this year. We are fortunate to have such a tremendous music faculty and well supported programs," said Bradley Morrison, director of cultural arts for Ossining schools. "I count myself as blessed to live in a community that understands that need to educate the whole child, with a strong emphasis on music and the arts."
The honored communities serve as models for developing standards-based music education programs, Mary Luehrsen of the NAMM Foundation said in announcing the winners. This is the 17th year of the NAMM Foundation's Best Communities for Music Education program.
"We are moving from a time when curricula were narrowed due to pressure from testing and test-prep remediation to a broader view of what is important for all children," she said. "That includes access to a well-rounded education -- and an opportunity to learn and grow with music and the arts."
To qualify for the designation, Ossining answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, facilities, support for the music program, community music-making programs and more. The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas reviewed the submissions.
The honor is even more significant this year. The federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act last year. The latter was frequently criticized for overemphasizing student testing and downplaying subjects like music. The law states that music and the arts are important elements of a well-rounded education, according to the NAMM Foundation.
"Access to music and the arts in the curriculum is important in its own right and connects students to their own personal expression and creativity," said Christopher Johnson, a professor and researcher at the University of Kansas.