Whenever I read an article about a successful school, or a successful system (e.g. exemplar tech initiatives), I am always looking for one key component: what about music education? Too often, a discussion of music and other “elective” classes is missing in such reports. Yes, I am terribly biased–I am a music educator. But please don’t tell me how good a school is academically if the music programs at those schools are not thriving, too. As I get older, “thriving” means something different than it did when I came out of college. Excellence in performance is wonderful–but not if that excellence comes at the expense of 90% of your school NOT being in music classes. When I contact authors about these articles, they are often shocked that I even ask about music and the electives. I am often told to contact the school public relations office directly–something I am not going to do, because those people are hired to never give a direct answer. Do you think a school district will admit it ignores music and other electives when it comes to technology?
Just today, I was reading an article about the technology initiatives in the Denver Public Schools. I wasn’t able to gleam anything about technology in music and/or the electives in those schools, but English and Special Education teachers were mentioned as having representatives on a district steering committee for technology. In fact, the Superintendent said, “Because sure, that’s great tech, but if it doesn’t work for English Language Learners or it’s not awesome for special education, it’s really hard for us to purchase.” What about if it’s not awesome for music? Family and Consumer Science? Industrial Technology? Physical Education? Visual Art? Perhaps even Foreign Language? Oh yes, we don’t really TEST in those subjects, so why mention them?
Just once, I’d love to read, “We make sure that all of our electives are able to use the technology, too.” Actually–I have seen this in action (A shoutout to the music educators in the Westonka school district–your administration, top to bottom, cares), but those situations are the exception rather than the norm.