Friday, March 20, 2009

More Outside the Bubble Thinking

As a former band geek myelf, it's always nice to hear that all those years practicing scales may have added up to something other than a mastery of do, re, mi's. Not that that isn't a useful skill to have. Still, when you read something like this report showing that taking music classes can improve reading skills (in addition to, presumably, music skills), it's hard not to stand up a little bit straighter. Of course, that news won't come as a shock to those who regularly read this blog.

Despite this academic benefit, we're still hearing reports all over the place (especially in New York) that music and other arts programs are being cut to make way for more test prep. Essentially, with limited hours each day, schools are cutting out the extras to focus entirely on the curriculars. Not to fear, says the GAO, their study finds that school time devoted to art and music hasn't decreased even with our increased emphasis on standardized tests. Seems like encouraging news. Turns out there's nothing to worry about after all.

But check out this quote from the report" "Our study identified a more likely reduction in time spent on arts education at schools identified as needing improvement and those with higher percentages of minority students."

In other words, the schools that most focus on test prep and raising scores are most likely to cut arts programs. This is your taxpayer money at work discovering that insight.

So where does that leave us? It leaves us in a pretty familiar position. Those who are succeeding are getting additional resources that will help them succeed further. Those who are not succeeding are not getting the resources and falling farther behind.

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