Liv Ames for EdSource
These transitional kindergarten students at Figarden Elementary in Fresno are learning about rhythm.

A national survey of teachers and parents found that students in the West have lower rates of enrollment in music classes and fewer minutes a week of required music education. Yet Western teachers and parents feel more strongly than those in other regions that music and arts education should be considered a core academic subject, the researchers found.

“There is a disconnect in the Western region in some of the aspirations teachers and parents have for music education and the on-the-ground reality that teachers and students face,” said Peter Grunwald, lead author of the study, which was published April 27.

The survey — Striking a Chord: The Public’s Hopes and Beliefs for K-12 Education in the United States: 2015 – was conducted by Grunwald Associates for the National Association of Music Merchants. NAMM is a nonprofit based in Carlsbad that works to advance active participation in music.

Grunwald said in elementary school, there’s a significantly greater percentage of students enrolled in music in the Northeast, Midwest and South. In middle and high school, both the West and South have a smaller percentage of students enrolled. The West required fewer minutes of music education compared to all the other regions, he said.

Armalyn De La O, director of the RIMS California Arts Project and who was involved in developing national education standards for music, said she was not surprised by the regional differences.

The lack of music classes in schools in California “has been the case for a while now,” De La O said in an email. However, she said, this year 181 music position openings have been posted on EdJoin, on online job listing site for educators, “which is a huge increase from past years.”

“I hope this is a sign that music education is coming back with the Local Control Funding Formula,” she said. “But there’s no proof just yet.”

The initial survey took place in January and February and included 1,000 teachers and 800 parents. The researchers then conducted 295 additional interviews with African-American parents and 276 more with Latino parents to have robust sample sizes for those groups. The researchers found that African-American and Latino parents generally feel music provides more benefits to children than other parents do.

Altogether, 22 percent of teachers and 20 percent of parents interviewed were from the West. California parents and teachers each made up 10 percent of the total respondents nationally. The western region included California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Alaska, Utah and Wyoming.

The survey also found that 77 percent of teachers and 64 percent of parents say access to music and arts education is extremely or very important, yet only 34 percent of teachers and 45 percent of parents consider music a core academic subject. In the West, the percentages of respondents who consider music a core academic subject were higher: 43 percent of teachers and 51 percent of parents.

In addition, the survey found that:

  • Urban parents and teachers feel they are not getting as much access to quality music programs as suburban districts do.
  • Schools that rely on Title I federal funding for low-income children generally lag non-Title I schools in many indicators of quality in music education, both parents and teachers said. In addition, awareness that Title I funds can be used for music education is generally low.
  • According to parents, 1 in 6 children has had no music instruction at all.

 

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  1. navigio 6 years ago6 years ago

    "[NCLB], passed in 2001, specifically included arts education as a core academic subject. But the legislation also elevated math, reading and other subjects tied to high-stakes tests above other elements of a well-rounded,academic experience, and many school districts responded by cutting back on arts and music programs.' Is this why there was no 'art' in the API? For reference, 'core academic subjects' were defined in nclb as: English, reading or language arts, math, science, foreign languages, civics … Read More

    [NCLB], passed in 2001, specifically included arts education as a core academic subject. But the legislation also elevated math, reading and other subjects tied to high-stakes tests above other elements of a well-rounded,academic experience, and many school districts responded by cutting back on arts and music programs.’

    Is this why there was no ‘art’ in the API?

    For reference, ‘core academic subjects’ were defined in nclb as: English, reading or language arts, math, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history and geography.

    Replies

    • Gary Ravani 6 years ago6 years ago

      The API was heavily weighted towards math and ELA.

  2. Hope Salzer 6 years ago6 years ago

    It's no wonder that music programs are least avail, or even non-existent, in U.S. Western states. Some of these states (CA and AZ most notably) spend among the least on PK-12 education per student in the entire U.S. When you have less money to spend and you are primarily judged on test scores in standardized Math and English language exams, guess where States are going to spend their money? On music … Read More

    It’s no wonder that music programs are least avail, or even non-existent, in U.S. Western states. Some of these states (CA and AZ most notably) spend among the least on PK-12 education per student in the entire U.S. When you have less money to spend and you are primarily judged on test scores in standardized Math and English language exams, guess where States are going to spend their money? On music programs, equipment, repair, storage, architectural needs, texts/sheet-music, and instructors? Probably not.

    Additionally, Ms. De La O, doesn’t seem to understand the mechanics of the LCFF (Local Control Funding Formula). LCFF does not provide any additional public revenues for PK-12 education in CA. It merely changes how that relatively small amount of money (relative to other states who spend a much greater proportion of their public revenues on education) is distributed among CA’s 6MM public school students. Remember, on a per-student, cost-adjusted basis, CA students rank 50th in the U.S. in educational funding and CA educates 1 in every 8 U.S. kids. Even under LCFF’s very rosy economic projections, CA school districts are not predicted to return to 2007 levels of educational funding until 2021.

    We’re halfway there now, and the improving U.S. economy has been assisting in returning the tens of billions of dollars cut from CA’s educational budget during the Great Recession. Therefore, CA school districts are enjoying greater levels of funding than in the depths of the Recession when not only were billions cut from CA’s educational spending but another $7-$12 billion in state funding to schools was ‘deferred’ each year– promised in the budget but not paid until well-into, or after, the school year was over, leaving schools to borrow money (with added interest expenses) or to deplete their reserved savings to make payroll (and foregoing interest income that they might have earned for students).

    Additionally, let’s not forget that Prop 30’s temporary incremental state sales tax ends in 2016 (next year), its temporary incremental income-tax ends in 2020, and all-things being typical (which they are not in the midst of an historic CA multi-year drought), we will be due for another economic downturn, right about the time when all temporary Prop 30 revenues expire and just when CA school districts were scheduled to return to their 2007 levels of funding– which, keep in mind, gave CA students the recently-high ranking of 46th in the nation in cost-adjusted per pupil spending. It’s certainly glacial movement in the right direction but, in the harsh light of reality, it’s also a bit of lipstick smeared on the proverbial pig.

    I’m all for celebrating the increases in CA’s budget for public education and our more equitable education funding distribution formula (LCFF). However, it is vitally important to keep our euphoria in perspective. We’re a long, long way from CA’s glory days when CA delivered Top 15 in the U.S. public educational services through the University, without the perpetual, Herculean, multi-million-dollar annual fundraising efforts required of parents, multi-million dollar supplemental parcel taxes imposed on some communities, and distribution formulas for the base <=1% property tax frozen in the 1970s by AB8.