Florida students in kindergarten through second grade could get more opportunities to have music instruction in the classroom, thanks to a bill signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The bill (SB 478) cements a pilot program for music education into law and expands it statewide. It was sponsored by Sen. Keith Perry, a Gainesville Republican, and approved unanimously in both chambers.
“Music education has been shown to help children with language development, brain development and fine motor skills,” DeSantis said in a released statement. “Florida has nation-leading early childhood and early literacy programs, and this bill will further help schools build a strong learning foundation for our youngest students.”
The pilot program was approved by the Legislature in 2017, known as the Early Childhood Music Education Incentive Pilot Program, but $400,000 in annual funding for it was vetoed until the 2020-2021 school year. Under the pilot program, the Commissioner of Education selected a handful of schools to participate.
As of the 2021-2022 school year, there were 10 schools selected to take part in the pilot program, all in Alachua, Marion and Miami-Dade counties and chosen for their proximity to the University of Florida and Florida International University. About 2,000 students participated, according to a Senate staff analysis of the bill.
Perry pushed to extend the program and study whether it brought education gains to students enrolled in the program. The program was set to expire in 2022, but the Legislature passed a bill extending it through this year.
Now, more schools will be able to take part in the program, but they must offer the program from kindergarten through second grade, have certified music instructors, offer 30 consecutive minutes of music instruction two days per week and comply with class size laws.
The Department of Education will administer the program. Schools that participate will receive $150 for every student enrolled.