Posted on 12/09/2010 at 08:10 PM by Global Reach

 

Northwest AEA Fine Arts Blog

Volume 2 Number 5

Marlin Jeffers, Educational Consultant

Music Web Site of the Month:   www.suportmusic.com

SupportMusic.com was created by the Music Education Coalition, a cooperative undertaking by MENC, the National Association for Music Education, and NAMM, the International Music Products Association. It is the largest initiative of its kind dedicated to positively impacting community resolve and inspiring action to support music education in the United States. The site offers resources to help people work on behalf of music education in their own communities, including a "Build Your Case" section and a bulletin board that lets people share their problems and successes. The American Music Conference (www.amc-music.org) has extensive resources available on its website, including the "Einstein Advocacy Toolkit" for grassroots music education advocacy.

Article of the month:

—American Music Conference Urges Local Action to Keep Music in Classrooms—

The nation's leading music advocacy organization today advised parents and local educators that despite good intentions, local interpretation of the federal "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) education law is seriously affecting access to music education for America's public school students.

"The law clearly identifies the arts as a core academic subject," explains American Music Conference Executive Director Rob Walker. "However, the requirements for standardized testing in literacy, math and science are leading local districts to divert resources away from other subjects. As a result, the arts are truly being left behind. We fear most of all that music, which is a vital learning pathway for children's success in school, is being sacrificed for shorter-term testing results. We're talking about what kids need to be successful learners."

Walker urged decision makers in local school districts to resist this trend and keep strong music programs available for students at all grade levels. He also advised concerned parents and educators to visit a Web site, www.supportmusic.com, which provides resources for grassroots music advocates. The site is maintained by the Music Education Coalition.

Paul Young, principal of West Elementary School in Lancaster, OH and a former president of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, has seen this phenomenon from both the national and local perspectives. "I see the decisions my fellow principals are making, and I understand the pressure, but they need to remember the big picture," he says. "I certainly believe everybody needs to be able to read and do math, but they also need to know how to think. What we're doing now is creating kids who are able to pass tests."

Under "No Child Left Behind," each state must measure every public school student's progress in reading and math in each of grades three through eight, and at least once during grades 10 through 12. By the academic year 2007-2008, assessments in science will be underway as well. These assessments must be aligned with state academic content and achievement standards.

In California, music educator Anne Fennell says people should look beyond those requirements to the spirit of the legislation. "If you look at NCLB Title Nine, it includes the arts as a core subject, but I think people get stuck on what's getting tested only," she says. Fennell is the Orff-Schulwerk Specialist at the Vista Academy of Visual and Performing Arts near San Diego, CA, and is also the founder and project director of MusicVentures, which helps train classroom professionals to make the most of music instruction.

"People think of literacy as reading and writing the printed word, but literacy is how we make meaning in our world, and how we encode and decode information," Fennell says. "Music is a part of that. But I've heard of kids who were pulled out of arts classes to get help in one of the tested subjects. NCLB says to focus on what works - to use effective practices. Well, we know arts programs work. But because they're not included in state formulas for funding and testing benchmarks, they're the first to be zapped."

The effects of these interpretations of NCLB and its effect on school music education come at a time when local budget pressures have already placed music classes in danger in many parts of the country. In New York City, pressure to find time for the extra English and math classes required by the Education Department's new standardized curriculum has led junior high schools to cut art, music and other electives. Across the country, as reported in major media, state-level
fiscal woes have led to repeated cuts in school arts programs. Even before NCLB, the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) showed only 25 percent of eighth graders nationwide had the opportunity to take a music class.

Ironically, the benefits of music instruction for young people are better understood than ever before:

  • A new study led by Dr. Agnes S. Chan of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, published in July in the journal Neuropsychology, found that school-age students who had participated in music scored significantly higher on verbal memory tests than their classmates who had not.
  • A 1999 UCLA study showed that students who participated in music programs three times a week scored an average of 40 percent higher in math, reading, history and geography than those who did not.
  • Other research over the last decade has linked music participation with enhanced brain development, higher performance in other academic courses, better socialization and improved wellness.

Concern about the unintended but serious consequences of NCLB has even reached the districts identified as the "Best 100 Communities in America for Music Education" in AMC's annual nationwide survey. In Syosset, NY, district Art & Music Chair Steven Schopp says, "I see the threat of scheduling problems due to NCLB as far more serious than budget problems. Budgets are obvious, but when students are quietly scheduled out of music in the name of increasing standards, nobody notices. It happens in small increments so there is no outcry."

Schopp also sits on the advisory board of the New York State School Music Association. "Recent discussions regarding NCLB focus on the effect of high-stakes tests on students," he says. "In my experience, the reaction to high-stakes tests of educators who actually work with children in schools is overwhelmingly negative. These are unintended consequences, but they are real consequences. As a result of NCLB, many students are being left behind in the arts!"

In another of the "Best 100" communities, Nevada, IA, high school band director Wade Presley observes, "More emphasis is being placed on academics, and students are being told to drop band or choir in order to beef up their classes in English, math and science."

Despite these pressures, Walker notes that the final decisions about educational priorities remain in local hands across the country. "I call on all teachers, parents and school administrators to keep music and arts instruction alive and well, so that local schools can produce the truly educated graduates that the authors of 'No Child Left Behind' envisioned," he says. "People need to be active in the process of developing school budgets and policies, and we have the tools at hand to help them."

SupportMusic.com was created by the Music Education Coalition, a cooperative undertaking by MENC, the National Association for Music Education, and NAMM, the International Music Products Association. It is the largest initiative of its kind dedicated to positively impacting community resolve and inspiring action to support music education in the United States. The site offers resources to help people work on behalf of music education in their own communities, including a "Build Your Case" section and a bulletin board that lets people share their problems and successes. The American Music Conference (www.amc-music.org) has extensive resources available on its website, including the "Einstein Advocacy Toolkit" for grassroots music education advocacy.

 

 

Comments
As a fellow musician i do think that children should receive music in early education because its a building block for children in the future. Music education opens doors that help children pass from school into the world around them a world of work, culture, intellectual activity, and human involvement. The future of our nation depends on providing our children with a complete education that includes music. I am a strong believer of that and can testify music has helped me throughout life experiences.
Branden Lovell | http://www.facebook.com/owlsformusic | 07/10/2017 at 07:28 AM
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