School Music Programs in Jeopardy

Here in Florida last week, the Broward county school board had a meeting. And like many school boards around the country, they are looking to cut money from the budget. The target this time is elementary school music and art programs. In efforts to save money, music and art always seem to get the short stick. The big reason possibly is that school board members figure they (music and art) are the least important. Even less important than athletics. Usually, this brings about a loud outcry of opposition from various corners of society. Mostly musicians and artist! Will this outcry and/or fundraising effort be of help? Maybe!

Many of you out there may be members of NARAS, The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. For those of you not familiar with this organization, we’ll just call them the Grammy people. But they have been doing more than handing out Grammy awards over the past several years. Many musicians receive a great deal of correspondence about the Grammy Foundation program. These are excellent ways to help young music students learn and possibly realize their potential. This lays the groundwork for them to excel in their years ahead. As I watched the report from the school board meeting on the news, I began to wonder about the political process of evaluating and deciding how to cut programs, including music. There seems to be a lumberjack’s way of handling these cuts. The way of thinking is like, “We don’t have any funds, so we’re going to have to completely cut programs out of the schools”. Now, I’m somewhat familiar with how government works, but I rarely here any creative ideas elicited to solve the lack of money problems. There may be some real partnership opportunities to be considered. NARAS has extensive corporate affiliates to help them in raising funds. Maybe there’s also a need to look into approaching the problem with another solution other than subsidizing the lack of money. A couple of years ago my business partner volunteered at a community after school program. When he took over the program he really took it up a notch or two in within a year. Some may think this could lead to music and art programs being taught by less qualified teachers. It could happen in some cases, without government oversight and mandates, but so be it. Drastic change is on the table now in the form of complete removal: with no alternative.

Maybe NARAS and some expanded community programs will be the future in music education. Public schools have possibly reached a point where it cannot provide adequate music and art education. So please, watch the news and keep informed about the state of music and art education in your area. I hope we don’t wait until music and art are completely gone from public schools to act.

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