SupportMusic Responds to Michigan’s Music Cuts

On behalf of the SupportMusic Coalition, we, the National Music Council (NMC), National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) and National Association for Music Education (NAfME), strongly advise the Lansing School Board and Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul to carefully review the concerns of the greater Michigan arts education community regarding the recent decision to cut music, art and physical education elementary teaching positions from next year’s budget. Put simply, this is the removal of highly qualified, certified educators in favor of contract teachers who will operate under the guise of arts integration. Those of us who work within this world know that arts learning as an integrated subject is just not the same as standards-based, sequential learning. We urge you to reconsider this decision.

Such a decision would be, perhaps, understandable in light of the fiscal woes that currently beset many of our nation’s urban areas. It is, however, neither understandable nor defensible in terms of our collective responsibility to provide a full, balanced education to all of our children.

“A broad base of research exists demonstrating the many benefits of music and arts in student learning and achievement. As is noted in the Partnership for 21st Century Learning Skills¹ Arts Skills Map, arts education is powerful preparation for college, career, and a fulfilling life. When delivered by certified educators, these benefits are most substantially gleaned, hence, the lifelong learning impact is greatest. Quite simply put, such dividends are far less likely to be realized when delivery takes place via arts-integration or artist-in-residence programs.

Arts instruction by certified teachers is, in fact, a vital requirement of a successful learning experience, and simply cannot be equaled by the type of stopgap methods presently being touted in Lansing.”

Professional certified staff, time, materials, and planned curricula should be available to students in every school. Second-best solutions involving some exposure to music and the other arts simply cannot replace the work of professional educators who are committed both to excellence in their art forms and, as trained teachers, to the growth and learning of children. We cannot deprive students of essential experiences in music and the arts that for many are among the strongest reasons they come to and stay in school.

There is absolutely a role for arts integration and artists-in-residence, both of which can enliven the classroom experience in unique and incredible ways. But that role must be an overlay and enhancement of true arts learning. Music and the arts are designated core curriculum and require core curriculum funding and the highest quality teachers. In support of the need to provide the best possible learning opportunities for children in Lansing, we urge you to reconsider your decision.