I had the pleasure of interviewing Kathleen Heuer, of Kathleen Heuer.com, Marketing Music.Education, and Broken Chord Communications.com, for my radio show on the BAM Network.
Kathleen is a Digital Marketing and Social Media Consultant, has her own Podcast entitled,….., and is the Founder of the Norwin Area Arts Council. She was the former Communications and Social Media Coordinator for the National Association of Music Parents.
I “met” Kathleen when I reached out to the National Association of Music Parents a few years ago. Since then, we have been in digital contact, promoting each others' sites and services. Kathleen has been a strong advocate for music education in schools and helping music teachers and music parents spread the word about the important benefits of music education. She consistently promotes great music ed content that she finds on the internet, and has services to help music teachers promote their programs.
Common Core; Is it Good or Bad for Music Education?
Kathleen and I spoke about the effects Common Core has had on music education. Since New York was practically one of the “test” states for for the roll-out of this program, I have first-hand knowledge of the effects it is having on our programs.
Some programs have seen a severe decline in enrollment due to students being taken out of Music Performance programs and placed into extra tutoring sessions because their test scores were not high enough. This has led, in some cases, to an “us vs. them” mentality between the Arts teachers and ELA and Math teachers. The reason is that one of the main tenets of Common Core is that teachers' evaluations are tied to student test scores. Administrators have interpreted this to mean that more emphasis is to be placed on what they feel are the “core” subjects of Math and English Language Arts at the expense of the Arts.
In some districts, a large percentage of Music and Arts teachers' evaluations have been tied to the student test results from the other “core” subjects, instead of from student performance in the Arts. How is that fair? (Read this article for how this has affected certain teachers. )
We all can agree that Math and English Language Arts are vital to a students' education, but we also know that the Arts are vital as well. (The bi-partisan Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in the Senate has agreed, with the recent inclusion of language in the upcoming ESEA Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 that states that music is a core subject. You can read that article here.)
An interesting argument is that Common Core is trying to promote creative thinking and problem solving, yet school administrators are not understanding that studying the Arts is all about being creative, working in teams (Band, Orchestra, Chorus, etc), self-reflection, and problem solving to perform better or more efficiently. Adding more tutoring sessions and taking away from creative learning may not help students perform any better on tests.
Although we both agree the idea of Common Core is very good, we also agreed that the implementation was poor, and in many cases, music and arts programs have been the ones to suffer.
Listen to the BAM Radio Show episode with Kathleen Heuer here for our thoughts on this issue.
What I would like to know is, how has your music program adapted to the demands of Common Core? Have there been cuts? Were you able to use Common Core in a unique way to either keep your program intact, or even better, improve it?
Let me know in the Comments below…