Education will change

Music teachers, both in this state and across the country, are caught between a rock and a hard place.

Study after study demonstrates the importance of music education in the development of children, including higher test scores, more creative students, better language development and an improved ability to see how things fit together. Given those benefits, it makes perfect sense that exposure to music education declined to 37 percent of students, according to a survey in a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts study.

In New York state, ever-tightening budget constraints and the demands placed upon school administrators by the Common Core State Standards means music education often takes a back seat when school budgets are put together each year.

While Mayfield Central School District may add a part-time position for music education next school year, that is because of additional aid.

Given the state’s finances, that seems like a dangerous thing to rely on.

Music education – and education in general – isn’t sustainable in its current form. The state is pushing districts to consolidate and cut costs in part to save itself money. State officials have made it plain they have other priorities, and sadly, they involve putting costs onto local taxpayers.

As much as arts education can help develop well-rounded children, state education standards will never value music and art education the same way it values math, science, history and language. It’s a reality of the new education framework – though perhaps it’s a reality that should be re-examined.

We know music education is a worthy endeavor. We know music education should continue. We don’t know the form in which it should continue.

Music teachers, school administrators, parents and students must find an approach that provides an acceptable level of exposure to the arts at a cost that fits within districts’ budgets and the educational restraints determined by the state.