Bernie Williams made his mark in center field for the New York Yankees in the 1990s and 2000s. The second phase of his life is marked by music and as such he’s spent a decade fighting for music and arts education in public schools.
The 50-year-old said music is what made him and he doesn’t want to see that taken away from other children. He was back in Washington, D.C, on Wednesday advocating for music education funding as detailed by the North Jersey Record.
Williams advocates for music education
Williams, actor Erich Bergen, who plays Blake Moran on “Madam Secretary,” and music producer J. Dash teamed up with the National Association of Music Merchant and the VH1 Save the Music Foundation to advocate for music education funding on Capitol Hill. They want more money to go to public school music education and to fully fund the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), per The Hill’s “In the Know.”
Williams told the North Jersey Record:
“It’s one of the most important dates on my calendar now. I feel in my heart that we’re making the world a better place.’’
The Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into law in 2015 as an updated version of the No Child Left Behind Act from 2002. It includes provisions to help ensure students at all schools are succeeding and meeting high requirements, from pre-school through graduation. In regard to music and arts, it says the classes must be added to curriculum in public schools.
But when budgets are slashed or education boards have to find a way to cover increasing costs within raising the tax rate, it’s music and arts that are often the first to go.
Williams: Well-rounded education made me
Williams, 50, won four World Series rings during a 16-year-career with the Yankees. The center fielder has four gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger honor. He graduated from a public school for performing arts in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and writes on his website he feels the same exhilaration with a guitar in his hand as he did with a baseball bat.
Music is and has been a part of Williams life from strumming in the clubhouse to now performing on tours. He told the North Jersey Record he fights for music and art education so that children “won’t be cheated out of” what he sees as an educational necessity.
“I attribute a lot of my success to that experience … I’m an example of that. That’s why we need to be on their radar.”
Brookings, a nonprofit public policy organization, released results in February from its large-scale trial study on the initial two years of Houston’s Art Access Initiative. it found that students with more arts education were less likely to receive disciplinary actions, were more likely to succeed in writing and held more compassion for others including how to help those treated poorly.
Art participation in adulthood results in more civic engagement, more social tolerance and an overall increase in the health of civil society, the study said.
USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute found in 2017 that the arts appeared to accelerate childhood brain development, including a “jump start” to areas such as language and reading.
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