As School Levies Run Dry, We're Paying to See the Day the Music Dies in U.S. Education
The quality of education for American students is a major concern for parents, educators, and politicians. New initiatives such as the No Child Left Behind act have been put into place by the Bush administration in an attempt to satiate the nation's desire to believe children will come away from school with the experience and knowledge they will need to be successful in life and to improve the world. Unfortunately, policies such as this do not actually take the full needs of students into account. In fact, putting a high priority on standardized test scores has deprived many schools of the ability to provide a well-rounded and in-depth education because all resources such as time and money must go towards curriculum that matches the superficial content of these tests. Even though music is designated as a core academic subject by the No Child Left Behind Act, many schools are still forced to cut "nonessential" programs that do not contribute to raising standardized test scores; the arts are among the first programs cut in most strained districts. This creates a void in children's education, because the arts are just as important as reading, writing, history, and math to the development of healthy, critical-thinking, capable students. Music programs are especially vital to student education, yet many Junior High and High Schools are minimizing the availability of music classes. According to the philosopher Socrates, "Musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated graceful, or of him who is ill-educated ungraceful." (Plato) Music classes are an essential part of the educational experience because of they help children become successful in school, in society, and in life.
The benefits of having music programs in school are widespread and extremely apparent to students, parents, and teachers. The skills which are learned in the study of music directly translate into skills needed to be successful in other academic areas, including communication skills, cognitive skills, and discipline. Students learn to work as a team when in a band, orchestra, choir, or ensemble group, and this helps them relate to each other rather than resorting to violence, gangs, or other negative behavior. Many research studies have proven what musicians and philosophers have known for ages: music applies to all areas of study. One study performed by UCLA found that regardless of other factors, students who have consistently played an instrument through the middle school and high school grades get "significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12." (Catterall, Chapleau, Iwanaga) Students involved in music also score higher on their SATs in every subject area, significantly less disruptive behavior, receive more academic honors, and have higher self-esteem. Music education even prepared students for higher academic achievements in higher education in any area of study chosen; more students who major in music in undergraduate school are admitted to medical school than students who major in any other subject. Sixty-six percent of music majors who apply to medical school are admitted, while only forty-four percent of biochemistry majors that apply are admitted. (Thomas)
A good educational experience is the foundation for overall success in life, and participation in music greatly enhances that foundation. Students who participate in music are less likely to smoke, drink, or do drugs. Collages look for participation in music on applications because it is recognized that it is a valuable lifetime learning experience and that it broadens people's understanding of the world and society. (U.S. Department of Education) Students who participate in music are more likely to land the in-demand jobs of the twenty-first century; the best engineers and technical designers are almost always musicians (Venerable), and music helps prepare students to perform in many lines of work, and to develop the skills they will need in those positions. Musical students are more likely to graduate from high school, pursue higher education, have well-paying jobs, and even own their own home. The arts benefit society overall, by creating jobs, boosting the economy, and of course entertaining people, which keeps them happy and happy people perform better. According…