Yesterday I said that we should strongly avoid standardized assessment in music class. As soon as I finished it, I heard the protests – but the Senate bill is a great advocacy of of our subject – how can we scorn it?
What should we do instead?
What we should do instead is a lot harder. In the long run, the Senate’s designation is a nice platitude but doesn’t really solve the problem of communities valuing us.
We have to convince our own communities that the arts are vital. It needs to be a weekly part of what we do as music educators – convince people, one at a time if necessary, that music belongs in the schools and couldn’t possibly be cut.
There are models for this and I’ve begun trying various ways to increase my arts department’s profile locally; I’ll be writing more about this.
One model to look to is high school athletics. They have a century of advocacy head-start on us – they have done so many things well that it’s almost impossible to imagine cuts to a high school football team, for example.
There is room for everything – athletics doesn’t have to lose for arts to win.
Music teachers are often the most visible musicians in a community. It is our job to advocate for music in our community, and if we don’t take on this role, the jobs will disappear as communities fail to value them.
It’s a lot harder than a Congressional designation, but it’s the right approach to take.