Tag Archives: Arne Duncan

NAMM Descends on Washington to Advocate Music Education

The great folks at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) organized a week of advocacy activities in Washington to help continue the fight for music education. NAMM staff, members, and Washington insiders attended, and GRAMMY-nominated singer Taylor Dayne and Journey keyboardist/songwriter Jonathan Cain articulated the impact that music education and music teachers had on their lives:

“Miss Kyzowski, Mr. Dagan, Miss Edwards. 30 years later I can still remember their names because these people were three of the most influential people in my life,” Dayne said.  “They were my music teachers and they helped me find my own voice. My music teachers believed in me more than I believed in myself and music class was my safe place.”

“In 1958, I went to a school that burned to the ground and 100 kids died. My way out of it was music,” Cain said. “My father bought me an accordion after the fire and it became my best friend. Music was my escape and my salvation. And that’s what we have to remember when decisions are made to cut music classes out of schools.”

These are 2 themes that we’ve articulated in this forum previously:

  1. Music and arts teachers can play a critical role in helping students develop self-esteem and inspire them to reach their potential.
  2. Students see music as a part of their identity, so much so that they often can’t consider life without it

When I conducted the research for my book, I asked many of the participants to identify their significant music teachers/mentors by name and I acknowledged them in the text, because I know from my own experience how lasting that impact can be. It was also interesting that professionals who had conquered the business world and achieved great success by any reasonable measure, often still identified themselves first and foremost as musicians.

Thanks again to NAMM for championing this effort and organizing these activities.

To read the complete press release with a summary of the week’s events, click here.

Frustrated Teachers, Test-Obsessed Schools

Diane Ravitch is the research professor of education at NYU and the author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (2010). In “Just Say No to the Race to the Top” she discusses how although standardized state tests are considered inadequate and a poor representation of the effectiveness of an educational institution (even acknowledged by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan), educators are held hostage by test-based methods in terms of allocation of dollars, teacher evaluations, and classroom priorities.

It’s interesting that there are several dozen comments to this very articulate blog post, mostly from educators who share her frustrations. Schools have been demoralized by these standards, and studies indicate that the greatest prerequisites of effective education are a motivated teacher and a motivated learner.

If teachers, parents, and students are fed up with the obsession on standardized tests, who’s steering the ship?

Link to “Just Say No to Race to the Top” by Diane Ravitch

My thoughts on Music Education and No Child Left Behind in a letter to the Aspen Institute’s Commission on NCLB