America has yet to find a problem the public schools couldn’t solve. In fact, it seems the more unconventional and uncomfortable the topic, the more likely we are to task America’s educators with solving it.
In addition to the growing list of requirements needed to walk across the stage to receive a diploma, students and teachers are faced with everything from sex, drugs, drinking, and driving… But not drinking AND driving, which we are also supposed to teach! (Now do you see how important the Oxford comma is? But, we have no time to teach about the Oxford comma!)
TIME IS THE GREATEST THREAT TO MUSIC EDUCATION. Not funding, not “lazy kids,” not athletics, not bad administrators, not technology, IT'S TIME!
Listen, I'm not against using schools to address social and emotional learning. The detachment and objectiveness of an instructional leader provides for a unique learning environment that can be well suited for dealing with difficult discussions, provided that there is enough time to do so, which there isn't.
The problem is that the list of objectives keeps getting longer, which in turn makes our school days shorter. While as a nation we continue to add academic and non-academic objectives to our curricula, we have failed to add the necessary resource to teach it,time! Time is what's missing in our schools and for our students.
To prove my point, I pulled all of the state graduation requirements for 1982 (the earliest I could find) and compared them to the requirements for 2007 (the most recent I could find). What I found was shocking. In that 25 year period (a single generation), the average state graduation requirements rose by 21%, which almost equates to an additional year of high school.
This doesn’t even include or factor in extended requirements for special certification (IBA/AP/Regents) or additional requirements necessary to achieve college eligibility. When you add in these requirements you find that in some states (mine included), college bound high school students get zero electives during one or more of their high school years, or are forced to take summer school or online classes to maintain an elective.
It seems that as a nation, we are long on expectation and short on time to achieve them.
This condensing and consolidating of the high school experience has forced students to make choices between doing what they WANT to and doing what they NEED to. Choices between ENJOYING school and BEING SUCCESSFUL in school. Choices between having a G.P.A. or having an ELECTIVE. Choices between MUSIC and going to COLLEGE, which is where music prepares kids to go!
I am all for accountability. I am all for increased standards. But, when did we decide that teaching a student math had to preclude us from teaching them music? When did we decide that teaching a student physics meant we couldn’t teach them a musical phrase? When did we decide that in order to provide them instructional time, we couldn’t provide them instrumental time? By adding more requirements and not providing for longer or more days to achieve them, that's exactly what we did!
I said it before, and I will say it again, TIME is the greatest threat to music education, so as far as I'm concerned...
THE TIME IS UP FOR OUR TIME TO BE UPPED!
Have a great week!
p.s. In an effort to be transparent, and show one and all my atrocious excel spreadsheet skills, I am attaching the spreadsheet of graduation requirements to this email for your perusal. Feel free to add, update, fix, and return to me. Click here to download it.