This is the final ASTA conference post–I promise. This is what happens every time I go to an event like this, so it[‘s nothing new (look in the archives). These events get me thinking and digging into topics we discussed.
Obstacles Facing Music Education
Within the broader discipline of music education, we face some daunting challenges to realizing this vision. One of the greatest obstacles is access. Currently, only one out of four school districts offer curricular string instruction. When compared with other music subjects such as band and choir, this number is relatively small. Owing to the current economic crisis, scheduling concerns, and the impact of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), reauthorized in 2002 as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), many existing programs are at risk of either reduction or elimination. Such budget cuts can occur almost anywhere, including school districts with a history of strong programming in the arts.
Additionally, testing mandates of NCLB have decreased the amount of time in the school day for arts instruction. Even though this legislation identifies the arts as core, some school systems reduce the arts to spend more time preparing students for standardized tests. As Congress renews the debate about reauthorization, we must address ESEA to ensure that funding for music and arts is a priority at the national, state, and local levels.
Attempting to influence policy, at any level, is often a challenge for music educators. Most are so busy working with their performance ensembles, teaching private lessons after school, or playing gigs in the evening that it can seem as if they are the last to know that the program is in jeopardy. Even for the most savvy and experienced citizen, getting elected leaders to focus on the arts is ever more challenging as other topics such as healthcare reform, a rising deficit, and crippling unemployment take center stage on both the national and local agendas. By the time many educators rally to save music programs, the political die has already been cast.
Read the complete green paper here.