study released in September 2004 shows
that music education in California
has declined significantly over the
last four years.
The study, called “The Sound of SilenceThe Unprecedented Decline
in Music Education in California Public Schools,” and produced by
the Music for All Foundation using data from the California Department
of Education, showed that 50 percent fewer students enrolled in music programs
in 2003-04 than in 1999-2000.
The numbers represent a loss of a half-million students, a higher percentage
than in any other subject, at a time when the total California public school
student population increased 5.8 percent.
In addition, the number of music teachers declined by 1,057, or 26.7 percent.
Although the authors of the study seem hesitant to commit to reasons for
such a steep decline, they name, with reservations, two potential causes:
California’s budget crisis, and the emphasis created by the No Child
Left Behind Act on reading and math scores, which tends to channel school
resources toward those programs.
U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, who tendered his resignation last
week, does not want the education initiative blamed for the drop in music
education. He recently reminded school superintendents that “NCLB included
the arts as a core academic subject because of their importance to a child’s