The power of school music programs: Students come for the music and stay for the math

Melissa Walker, a professional jazz vocalist and president and founder of Jazz House Kids in Montclair, N.J., and Peter Smagorinsky, Distinguished Research Professor of English Education at the University of Georgia, joined forces to write a piece on the benefits of music education.

Here is their essay:

By Melissa Walker and Peter Smagorinsky

Public schools, in general, have become incriminated in the public mind for having failed society. They must be re-envisioned, restructured, reassessed, and refinanced if they are to serve the public good, according to commentators ranging from folks waiting in line at the post office to governors and national policymakers. Given that schools provide the one common experience that all Americans have, it’s easy to blame them for anything that might follow from attendance, no matter how tenuous the connection. If something’s wrong with society, it must be a problem that schools and teachers are responsible for.

One approach to re-conceiving schools is to strip them down to the bare essentials, especially the STEM imperative that politicians and policymakers believe will make the U.S. economically competitive in the long run. If an academic program doesn’t help us contend better with China and India and help us maintain our standard of living, then it’s a frill that our tight budgets should not accommodate. Among those superfluities most readily targeted are programs that serve the arts, which might divert kids from academics for an hour or so but produce so few professional musicians and artists that they can no longer be justified.

Or so they say.

We beg to differ. We speak from different yet related experiences as educators and citizens. Melissa is a jazz singer who founded and operates Jazz House Kids, with considerable assistance from her husband Christian McBride, a bass player of international acclaim. This foundation is designed to provide New Jersey youth with the resources, support, and direction to play, sing, and appreciate America’s original art form: jazz. Peter is a career educator from the field of English (literature, writing, and language in relation to other artistic genres), first as a teacher and since 1990 as a teacher educator. They are linked by Peter’s brother Fred, who is presently chair of the board of Jazz House Kids and a longtime business executive and musician. What we share is a lifelong love of music and a great concern for the future of American youth.

We do not see music at a sideshow to the real business of education. Rather, we consider formal music programs to provide an activity that accentuates and channels kids’ positive interests into team-oriented work that enables them to find a reason to believe in school’s potential for improving their lives. In other words, strong music programs serve as the medium through which young people can develop an affiliation with the institution of school.

This feeling of belonging and reciprocal responsibility in turn helps to sweep them into other positive currents of activity and direction that school can provide young people. In this sense, music is not a frill. Rather, it’s an essential means through which youth, particularly those who have yet to shine or are at-risk, can find reasons to persist academically across the curriculum and take part in the positive social updraft that both music and school can enable.

Music is often the catalyst that provides the key ingredients for youth to fashion a meaningful future. Participation in a music program can foster and hone the wherewithal, the creativity, the passion, the perseverance, the confidence, the desire, the flexibility, the improvisation, the self-discovery, and the inspiration that comes from meaningful arts experiences.

Young people’s participation in music involves structure and discipline that promotes essential work habits as straightforward as showing up on time, managing one’s time, being prepared, and listening. It also cultivates more complex dispositions and capabilities, such as focusing for prolong stretches of time, working through challenges, and anticipating and managing change, in relation to both their environments and their own growth. These qualities also contribute to their broader success in school and lay a foundation for positive engagement with society that will last a lifetime. Music programs thus serve a highly utilitarian role in young people’s academic lives, every bit as much as do the STEM fields vaunted in current educational policy.

Schools are fundamentally communities. School spirit matters, not just among cheerleaders and athletes but in terms of promoting feelings that the school is a positive place whose activities, programs, and classes are worth participating in. The notion of reciprocal relationships is central to how people feel about participating in and contributing to the social life of the school. Discussions about the role of the arts in school tend to overlook the critical role that they play in helping to build a sense of community and related sense of school affiliation, which in turn produce a host of benefits to kids and schools.

According to “The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies National Endowment for the Arts,” students with deep arts engagement are four times more likely to participate in extracurricular activities, including school government, yearbook, school newspaper, service clubs, and community volunteering. Prolonged engagement in the arts shows that student participants enjoy greater academic achievement and are better prepared for college. Dedication to artistic activities also contributes to better outcomes in their entry in the initial job market, and better alignment with professional careers.

The commitment of these emerging young artists to their work has important societal benefits, boosting not only their academic achievement but their civic involvement and interest in current affairs, as evidenced by the finding that young people involved in the arts are also more likely to vote. Further, students with high levels of arts engagement have a higher GPA and are more likely to go to college.

Those who lack a rich experience in the arts are five times more likely not to graduate from high school. Students heavily engaged in the arts are four times more likely to participate in extracurricular activities than those who are not. That’s quite a payoff for such a relatively small investment.

One might argue that the findings from the NEA report does not show a causal effect of arts on kids, but rather identifies traits that pre-exist in students who enroll in such programs. In other words, a critic might say that music does not produce these outcomes, but that kids of privilege tend to have the leisure time and classical orientation to participate in the arts. And no doubt, that is the case for many students who join their school orchestras and play in their wind ensembles.

Yet, quite significantly, students from low socioeconomic families who have a strong history of arts involvement realize the most significant gains in academic achievement. So, for the kids who need it most, music programs provide both the cultural capital and positive trajectory that enables school to get the most out of their abilities and efforts.

To borrow a phrase from popular culture, kids come for the music, and stay for the math. And for the music, too. For urban kids, the music that provides the sense of affiliation and belief in school’s potential to advance their lives is often jazz.

Melissa’s own experience in founding Jazz House Kids illustrates how motivation does not always precede action, but may follow from engagement. She did not set out to found an organization that would occupy both her dreams and her waking hours. Rather, over 10 years ago she organized a young people’s workshop for the WBGO jazz radio station in Newark. This event was such a stunning success that it helped her see the possibility for a more permanent program, one that has grown into a major arts organization that has produced award winning ensembles, high achieving and college bound students from diverse backgrounds, sought after signature programs, and a growing national reputation. Through this work, Melissa has witnessed first-hand the tremendous role that the arts play in building strong and vibrant communities.

Jazz House Kids is an independent foundation, not a school-sponsored program. Yet, it has established lasting relationships with schools, providing what the financially strapped Newark-area schools cannot for their children. Few communities, however, are home to couples such as Walker and McBride, who have the talent, connections, dynamism, and dedication to fill this critical gap in young people’s lives. What we have witnessed in Newark is rare, and in the current policy climate, has little prospect of gaining in support and investment when it comes to school budgets because the arts are often positioned as falling outside the academic core.

We are concerned that such short-sighted and ill-informed thinking has grave consequences for the future development of our youth. Compensating for this shortfall of educating the entire child in the schools places the full burden squarely on the shoulders of parents, who must seek out and pay for their children’s arts programs out of pocket. Kids from families with limited resources or other priorities might have their dreams deferred or ended before their vision of finding a pathway for meaningful, team-oriented, socially-constructive engagement in a worthwhile activity can begin. In homes without resources, more likely than not, the children go without. God might bless the child who’s got his own, but educational policymakers could sure help out.

We believe that arts are not only an essential part of the human experience and our cultural identity, but also an important driver for the long term health of our citizenry and economy as young people use music to undertake new and productive life trajectories. That’s no frill. Rather, it’s as critical to the core of the educational experience as we can imagine.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

75 comments Add your comment


January 1st, 2013
8:40 am

Couldn’t agree more. It’s anecdotal,but my kids had more regard for their band director (by far) than any other teacher,administrator, chair warming educrat or coach that they encountered.The band director at their school never drew attention to himself,but he was one of the very few that delivered excellence consistently. The band won just about every competition it entered and discipline was exemplary.The kids had fun.They also knew that they were part of something special and this built their confidence better than any feel good psychobabble.They could HEAR the results when they performed.They also saw how a well organized group should work (there were over 250 members) and what true leadership is.

They all still talk about their band days as some of the happiest of their school years.

Beverly Fraud

January 1st, 2013
9:31 am

There is a huge problem with offering “the arts” in public school, one the authors need to address. “The arts” encourage people to think. They encourage people to explore possibilities outside normal, social, constructs.

How do the authors expect children to grow up to be meek, compliant adults? (You know, much like the one who can’t possibly imagine why one would, and should, question the ethics of “education leaders” who continue to honor educational charlatans).

I think the authors must be willing to be honest enough to admit if you expose children to art, you are actually, by that very purpose, encouraging them to engage in independent thought.

Seriously Peter and Melissa, it’s as though you think we are in the business of trying to actually educate children, not train them to fit into business model. Do you really think education is about that?

Now if you want to mandate that children should, three times a day, sing Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American that’s fine. But “the arts”? That’s dangerous talk there; very dangerous.


January 1st, 2013
9:33 am

I also agree whole heartedly! Introducing music to kids in schools can often be the only exposure they get…especially on the lower income level. My parents didn’t have the resourses to give me music lessons, but my band director had an old trumpet laying around that he let me use to learn, and from that humble start I have enjoyed a long and continuous enjoyment in performing. And I might add that singing cost NOTHING out of pocket!! While not every student who participates in music while in school will go on to make it a profession, they can enjoy making music as an amateur the rest of their lives (a great stress reliever, I might add!). Astropig has made some excellent points about the benefit of being in a band program, and one other addition would be that colleges also look at long term committment in extracurricular activities (can a student focus his/her attention and commit themselves to a task over an extended period of time) as a measure of how well they will be able to succeed at COMPLETING their degree program.

Slo Pony Dog Food Company

January 1st, 2013
9:56 am


A wise man once said “Bitterness is like taking poison and expecting someone else to die”

Beverly Hall is not going to die because you hate her so much.She’s just a symptom of the problem,not the cause.Any system that could produce a Beverly Hall and exalt her is the real problem. Food for thought…


January 1st, 2013
10:07 am

Pfft, there’s no way to put music in a state-mandated standardized test, so why bother?

I always wondered in the pay-for-performance scheme, where would art, music, and p.e. teachers fit in?

All of the arts, visual and performing, are a great outlet for kids and adults. I find my enjoyment of music has been quite fulfilling. I began in 5th grade and continue today. I am one of the fortunate few that even derives some income from my musical skills. Getting paid to do something you love, that’s living!

I played a church service in Sunday. Afterward, an elderly woman came up to me and said how she’d always wanted to learn to play the piano. I told her it’s never too late!


January 1st, 2013
10:22 am

I agree wholeheartedly. “Extras” or “fluff” as some call them, are the glue that hold many kids in school. Part of it is the appeal to a different part of the brain, part of it is the being in a group of like-minded people, part of it is the discipline required to be successful. There are other intangibles as well that keep kids in school and focusing on being successful.

Then there are the other things that make involvement in the arts important, which is the appreciation and knowledge and skills carried on into adult life. Priceless.

Like some of the others above, I cringe when I think that, because it cannot be measured on a standardized test, our legislators or higher up muckity-mucks (being kind here) think it of less importance, and the first thing to go in tough budget times, or that these programs are not needed for tough city kids or bumpkin rural kids. They need it the most, IMHO, since their parents are much less likely to seek out (or be able to seek out) the opportunities outside of school.

Old School

January 1st, 2013
10:30 am

I always had a radio playing classical music (thank you, WFSU-FM!) in my drafting lab. It was low enough to make verbal communication easy but loud enough to “fill in the gaps” as my students worked. Some complained at first or asked for a rock or country station instead but soon the music was just “there” and was even missed if the radio was off for some reason. The students even started asking the names of particular pieces they had heard other places- like in commercials- and I began writing the title they knew (”Kill the Wabbit”) on the whiteboard. Someone would discover the actual title and add it.
I don’t know if it was the constant background music or the 15 minutes of silent reading they did at the very beginning of each block, but I had very few discipline problems in all my 36 years of instructing. Music has always been important to me and I wanted it to be around all of us as much as possible.


January 1st, 2013
10:57 am

Heres a thought, why not get rid of high school football and substitute it with the arts? I know thats akin to spitting on the flag here in Georgia but it seems to me that schools waste a lot of money on sports.

Beverly Fraud

January 1st, 2013
11:04 am

“Beverly Hall is not going to die because you hate her so much”

But it’s not about Beverly Hall. Why can’t people see that? It’s about an “education leader” GSSA and our complete unwillingness (yes you Maureen LOL) to hold them accountable in the same way the media and others held Penn State, the IOC and the Tour de France accountable.

Can you imagine if Penn State said “Yes Paterno’s actions, and lack thereof, allowed a horrific tragedy to continue, but not only is he retired, he’s dead, so what purpose does it serve to remove his statue. Let’s continue you to honor him”?


“Any system that could produce a Beverly Hall and exalt her is the real problem.”

Exactly And when educators in that system are fundamentally unwilling to hold to account those who continue to exalt her, then I think they are part of the problem.

That we want to slam teachers as being, on the whole, too incompetent to do their jobs is completely laughable when we won’t even begin to separate that from the systemic incompetence we asked them to operate under.

But when they can’t even question those who would exalt educational leaders who honor a charlatan who operated one of the most abusive to teachers systems in Georgia, I think we need to call teachers to account and ask if, as a whole, they have the mindset to stand up enough for the best interests of children?

It’s a distinction here few seem to get, because they are under the mistaken impression that’s it’s all about Beverly Hall and it is very, very depressing that so few educators who read this blog apparently can’t make such a distinction.

And we expect teachers with this mindset to be able to push the envelope of thought in ways needed to truly teach the arts?

Maybe it’s the teachers who need art training and real training in challenging fundamental assumptions. (Still waiting for an honest answer to how many of you out there, when you were supposed to be “inspired” by the Teddy Stoddard story, were “moved” because you automatically assumed it was true? Does that level of honesty exists in those who read this blog???)


January 1st, 2013
11:15 am

In APS, a test has already been developed and implemented for the arts. It is now being attached to teacher evaluations like standardized tests are being used for core teachers. P.E. teachers are also required to develop an assessment. This is what education is becoming. Everywhere the kids go, they will be tested to death. Creativity is being killed in our public schools.

Beverly Fraud

January 1st, 2013
11:27 am

@Slo Pony, you in turn have been given some “food for thought” in 11:04 rebuttal.


January 1st, 2013
11:50 am

Bravo, bravo, BRAVO! And while we’re at it – why hasn’t the AJC run anything about the unprecedented THREE high school orchestras (Alpharetta, Chattahoochee, and Johns Creek) that were accepted at the prestigious Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago last month?! This is the sports equivalent of winning the nationals, but I guess it’s not important enough for Georgia?


January 1st, 2013
12:09 pm

Good positive stuff! Extra curricullars can clearly help students connect. And kudos to the staff that devote the many hours to make those activities possible


January 1st, 2013
12:20 pm

“That we want to slam teachers as being, on the whole, too incompetent to do their jobs is completely laughable when we won’t even begin to separate that from the systemic incompetence we asked them to operate under.”

Wow….I want to print that statement in bright, bold letters and hang it on the Gold Dome to greet the 2013 legislature.

Now…to the topic at hand. Guess who consistently decries the loss of extracurricular programs?


However, the general public and the “accountability” gurus have slaughtered the programs to pay homage to the standardized testing movement. Extracurricular programs have experienced “death by a thousand cuts” since NCLB.

I teach high school and I can tell you that most students come for the band, art, sports (yes, even football is a motivator for many students), SkillsUSA, etc. and stay for the math and science.


January 1st, 2013
12:35 pm

@SBinF— The DOE does intend to come up with tests for music, PE, etc.

bootney farnsworth

January 1st, 2013
12:41 pm

@ beverly

its not they can’t see it, they WON’T see it. I had the same issues at/with GPC. its just one person, its just one school, ect.

its a symptom of a very sick system enabled not by idiots like Kasim or the empty heads downtown, but by the very people telling you to stop making an issue of things they don’t want to think about.

bootney farnsworth

January 1st, 2013
12:50 pm

while I agree arts education, especially music education, has a direct impact on math/science skills, I do see the larger issues involved.

much of art is subjective. STEM studies on the whole are not. STEM related studies are much more likely to have a real world, direct application than arts studies – ie, a job.

until the idiots downtown decide the actual quality of education is more important than the amount of pencil pushers, cronies, purposeless jobs in administration, arts education is gonna be the first to suffer.

bootney farnsworth

January 1st, 2013
12:53 pm


most of my kids are in music. in music in particular, there are very real very strict / unforgiving standards to evaluate if kids are meeting standards

sight readings are like true/false. you either get it right, or you don’t


January 1st, 2013
12:53 pm

Music and Art teachers can actually do something. Most educators, sadly, cannot.really do anything.


January 1st, 2013
1:01 pm

Beverly–Did any of the other groups that awarded B Hall, some with money, denounce their choice after the truth (which had been suggested here for years) came out officially?

Truth in Moderation

January 1st, 2013
1:27 pm

Home schoolers are more than willing to spend money on providing music and art lessons for their children. In fact, there are many “home school schools” popping up that provide experienced instructors to teach these skills at a modest price. One home school mom started the “Master’s Academy” to cater to artistic students and offers excellent visual arts and drama classes. I have noticed that some of the “public school at home” students take advantage of these excellent classes as well.

Mine have been drawing, painting, doing origami, and listening to classical and sacred music since they were very young. Two of mine had their origami models accepted into the prestigious Origami USA Traveling Children’s Exhibit, based in New York City. One of them recently helped me when I needed a Christmas gift. They quickly folded a beautiful origami candy box and filled it with chocolates. The recipient loved it and was impressed that he had made it. Yes, the arts can be very practical as well.

Fred in DeKalb

January 1st, 2013
1:43 pm

Beverly Fraud, as I indicated to you in an earlier blog, to cover of the Chamber of Commerce may be part of the reason for less than aggressive reporting regarding Beverly Hall’s accountability with the cheating scandal. Perhaps you should ask the editor of the AJC if there is any validity to this. If you get a response, please share it with us. He can be reached at,

Kevin G. Riley
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

In a letter to subscribers, he said **We’ll continue to dig deep on the stories that interest you; hold your elected officials accountable; illuminate the rich personalities of our community; provide a balanced mix of views on our opinion pages; and help you be an informed citizen about issues that affect you.**

Lack of integrity by public officials affects us. Let’s see if he means what he says..

Beverly Fraud

January 1st, 2013
1:58 pm

“Beverly–Did any of the other groups that awarded B Hall, some with money, denounce their choice after the truth (which had been suggested here for years) came out officially?”

Not that I am aware of catlady; it’s just so happens that Maureen (correct me if I’m wrong Maureen) actively sought out Herb Garrett to comment on the upcoming General Assembly.

Maureen, at the very least, will you make Kevin Riley aware, and ask him to be accountable to the readers of this blog and provide a response?

It would seem that the quote above, attributed to him, would require no less of him.

If I may ask catlady, on the scale of moral transgressions, which do you find more problematic; that someone repeatedly (yes I admit it) will ask Herb Garrett to explain his actions, or that Herb Garrett continues to honor Beverly Hall?

Mother of 2

January 1st, 2013
2:12 pm

Agree with this article in its entirety. The band director in our school has instilled in our students a strong work ethic and teamwork. The band students take their music and studies seriously. The kids have a real sense of school pride and are very connected to the music program and the school in general. I encourage parents of students who have the smallest interest to participate in school band, or chorus, or drama. The arts can provide an environment for students that is very positive.


January 1st, 2013
2:37 pm

Great article. Like many of the other posters, I am a past illustration of the logic. I was part of a renowned magnet program in APS in the 80s, and struggled early on in many of my classes. Being surrounded by students that were progressing quicker than I in a competitive environment was daunting. However, I was an excellent musician, and that kept me engaged. Being in the marching band and in the jazz orchestra often gave me the incentive to “stay for the math”. It also provided me leadership opportunities and confidence. I stayed connected in school, my grades improved, and my confidence grew. Next thing you know, I was participating in academic quiz bowls, lyceums, and other extracurricular activities. All kids have the potential to learn and succeed, they are just engaged in different ways. Some are naturally academics, some are athletes, and some are artistic students looking for a way to connect to the “community” the author of the article so poignantly describes.


January 1st, 2013
2:55 pm

Ha ha ha, the liberal arts people are trying to overwhelm use with their verbosity! The world is full of music, from boom boxes to mp3 players, the kids today live in a world of music. Yet this writer wants me to pay higher property taxes to provide more in school music, in the guise of an academic course? I say no!

[...] Melissa Walker, a professional jazz vocalist and president and founder of Jazz House Kids in Montclair, N.J., and Peter Smagorinsky, Distinguished Research  [...]

living in an outdated ed system

January 1st, 2013
3:35 pm

This research is not new. I am proud to say that the Atlanta Music Project is filling the gap that our public schools have abdicated when they’ve cut funding for music education. It is a very successful program based on the world renown “El Sistema” program founded in Venezuela more than 35 years ago. There is lots of research available on how music and other social and emotional learning programs lead to successful learning outcomes.

And while AMP started as a program based in community centers of some of Atlanta’s most at-risk neighborhoods, it is now working with various schools such as Coan Middle School, Toomer Elementary, and Dunbar Elementary. And it’s working!!

living in an outdated ed system

January 1st, 2013
3:36 pm

Maureen, I am glad you started the new year with an article about the importance of music education. Thank you!


January 1st, 2013
3:48 pm

Arts and music instruction should be considered a necessity in our schools rather than a luxury. The writers today have provided several good points upon which to build.

Cliff Higgins

January 1st, 2013
3:51 pm

@Solutions… The examples you list of the world of music that our kids experience is very limited. The examples are all about the consumption of music. Music education is much more. There is also the creation of music through performance and composition, the analysis and critique of music/performances. While I appreciate the intent of those that cite studies demonstrating the value music study has in relation to improving other academic areas, I don’t want to rely on that as a justification to have music in our schools. I don’t hear people trying to justify other academic subjects by how they make math better (for example). Yes, music is an academic subject (NCLB for all it’s faults, says so). Because it currently isn’t tested, unenlightened administrators don’t care. Our society has deemed the arts of less importance. We are reducing schools to career training centers (and not very good ones sometimes). Being trained for a career doesn’t make a person educated. Our leaders love to divide us into republican/democrat, black/white, liberal/conservative. If they can keep us squabbling with each other then we don’t notice their ineptness.

Old Physics Teacher

January 1st, 2013
3:53 pm

Two points:
1) Music, art. and literature are necessary for the soul of a society. Just as there are people who gravitate toward science and math, there are people who gravitate toward the arts. One is not necessarily better than the other. Society needs both! This new push to emphasize STEM was just stupid legislators looking for a scapegoat. Unfortunately the “people” fell for the act. Hopefully, this will change — eventually.

2) Sigh, correlation does NOT imply causation. Artistic people usually have good academic skills, but one doesn’t cause the other. In many cases, musicians come from well-off families. Just look at the “richer” neighborhood schools. Most of them have very large music, arts, etc programs. The parents can afford those violas, violins, etc, etc. Those parents value education AND music. Many of them play instruments themselves. It’s no wonder the kids value them too.

Truth in Moderation

January 1st, 2013
4:10 pm

“cover of the Chamber of Commerce may be part of the reason for less than aggressive reporting”

From my experience, that sounds like a reasonable assumption. Always follow the money. Since real-estate values are an important economic draw to the city, bad press for the public schools will keep potential buyers away. Most out-of-state buyers do not want to pay for private schools to assure their child gets a quality education. Sad.


January 1st, 2013
4:11 pm

And yet, American public schools are dropping music programs like hot potatos.

It’s almost as though those in charge are deliberatly getting us to rock bottom as quickly as possible.


January 1st, 2013
4:34 pm

Great article! As a classroom music teacher, I am able to teach something that will be in the brains of these students for the rest of their lives. There’s a reason Alzheimer’s patients can play or sing entire songs from memory when they can’t recognize their own spouses. Music affects the entire brain. After reading and performing, students’ brains are lit up like a Christmas display. The results last for hours, enhancing the learning in other classes. If I won the lottery, I’d keep teaching for free. Actually, if I teach many more years, I’ll be doing that anyway.

Truth in Moderation

January 1st, 2013
4:34 pm

Why should New York City have a corner on jobs in the arts/new media?
In this video, Mayor Bloomberg announces the “Made in New York” Media Center to jumpstart a collaborative industry of artists and media technologists.

Atlanta could have the same vision! We have a much cheaper cost of living, better weather, PLENTY OF EMPTY COMMERCIAL REAL-ESTATE, talented artists, TNT, CNN, and GEORGIA TECH!

Let’s see a “MADE IN GEORGIA” one instead!

Watch the announcement:


January 1st, 2013
4:37 pm

I support the arts, such as music, but any study that compares students actively engaged in a music program with those not, is flawed from the beginning. The reason is that in many middle schools especially, students who are placed in music classes, be it chorus, band, or orchestra, are often gifted or high achieving students. In many schools lower performing students are placed in math tools and reading classes, which are very important, but keeps them from participating in the music classes. My point is, while I firmly support music, I do not believe it is the reason why students are higher achieving. Take away the music, and many of those students will be just as intelligent and successful.

living in an outdated ed system

January 1st, 2013
4:43 pm

@Concerned, are you a researcher? I trust you will review the myriad of research done on these programs and then let us know where you think the methodology is flawed. Thanks.

Another Voice

January 1st, 2013
4:55 pm

Check out ArtsNowLearning.Org, which offers teachers training to incorporate arts (music, visual and performing arts) into the so-called core curriculum. Yes, the state standards can be taught creatively, in ways that help all types of learners (audio, visual, and kinesthic) to master the material required by the common standards.


January 1st, 2013
5:17 pm

@living in an outdated ed system, I am an educator with experience in different school systems and different grade levels. My point was high-achieving students enroll in music classes, rather than music class members become high achieving students. I do agree that music is an important part of creating a well-rounded student. To truly test music’s impact on a student’s achievement you would need to identify struggling children, and enroll those children in music classes to see if there is any change.

Beverly Fraud

January 1st, 2013
5:49 pm

Has the AJC reverted back to the old days, when they wouldn’t ask hard legitimate questions of education leaders?


January 1st, 2013
5:59 pm

What a crock?
Let’s give them drugs if they promise to study math!

Slo Pony Dog Food Company

January 1st, 2013
6:18 pm

“Has the AJC reverted back to the old days, when they wouldn’t ask hard legitimate questions of education leaders?”

This is just an asinine question.If it was not for the work of the AJC, the scandal that they uncovered at APS might still be going strong. If this newspaper had not asked the hard questions and exposed the wrongdoing, (and I am certain that political pressure was exerted , favors called in to get the series stopped or watered down),then we would have had no idea how deep the rot was in the school system. We would have never learned how an educrat told teachers and administrators to tell the GBI to “go to hell” when they investigated. In short, we owe the AJC plenty for shining a light in the dark corners where corruption flourishes and exposing the roaches that hide there.

What more can they (AJC) do? Sweet Jesus,why don’t the DA and other law enforcement people bring the pain to the ringleader(s) ?

Beverly,if you really are a teacher,you’re a space loon.I doubt you do a very good job because you seem to lose control of your reasoning ability pretty easily. Food for thought.

Beverly Fraud

January 1st, 2013
6:41 pm

@Slo (an apt shortening, based on what I just read) it appears remediation is indeed in order.

It’s not about Beverly Hall. To repeat:

But it’s not about Beverly Hall. It’s about an “education leader” GSSA and our complete unwillingness (yes you Maureen LOL) to hold them accountable in the same way the media and others held Penn State, the IOC and the Tour de France accountable.

Can you imagine if Penn State said “Yes Paterno’s actions, and lack thereof, allowed a horrific tragedy to continue, but not only is he retired, he’s dead, so what purpose does it serve to remove his statue. Let’s continue you to honor him”?

Now Slo, can you explain why the media held Penn State accountable, the IOC accountable, the Tour de France accountable, yet the AJC won’t hold an education organization accountable for continuing to honor education’s Milli Vanilli?

I suspect you don’t have an effective rebuttal that would explain why the above isn’t a fair and legitimate question, so all you are left with is to scream “space loon” before making a complete utter mockery of the phrase “food (pablum?) for thought.”

“What more can they (AJC) do?

Glad you asked, Slo. Simply put, before choosing to give GSSA further legitimacy by featuring them in your education blog, you ask why they are continuing to honor education’s Milli Vanilli?

“Sweet Jesus,why don’t the DA and other law enforcement people bring the pain to the ringleader(s) ?”

Gee Slo, if the AJC would periodically follow up perhaps we would know. And you really just asked what else the AJC could do, and then followed it up my questioning my reasoning ability?



January 1st, 2013
6:42 pm

Beverly, I am not sure Mr. Garrett is ignoring your requests as much as he just thinks it will all go away. And, with the limited attention-span most Americans have, he is probably right. I would ask what is the status of the criminal investigation against B.Hall. Surely there is one?

It is a serious moral transgression if Ms. Hall is not held accountable; once that happens I expect some of those groups who honored her, with acclaim and money, would more actively distance themselves from her actions that they so honored.

The Atlanta Chamber also needs to be held accountable after Ms. Hall is convicted. They were instrumental in the cheating.

The AJC was also initially and medially (is that a word for “in the middle period?”) complicit, as those who know much about educational improvement said repeatedly that there was something fishy. Finally they did provide an investigation that resulted in the state investigating. However, as it stands now, unless there are criminal charges pending, the thing is at a standstill. And that is what Ms. Hall counted on.

The real moral turpitude was demonstrated by those in the administration who set this in motion, who condoned it if only tacitly (they would have had the intelligence of a turnip not to question the remarkable results), who acted as enforcers toward the teachers who were involved, and who participated in the coverup. Those people should be awaiting trial. I doubt any are.


January 1st, 2013
6:48 pm

@Concern – it is routine to see special education students and many students who are not in only advanced placement in ALL music classes in Fulton. In fact, the music classes of all kinds are a total mixed bag of student ability levels. You are completely incorrect. Go to one choir concert and see the number of students coming in with para-pros assigned only to special ed students if you doubt my information. Go and see the autistic children playing in many of Fulton’s instrumental groups. In Fulton, these classes are open to ALL students and all students participate.

Beverly Fraud

January 1st, 2013
7:00 pm

As is invariably the case, we can count on catlady to give a reasoned, well-thought out response.

And unlike Beverly Fraud certain unnamed posters, you can’t, with any legitimacy, describe catlady’s presence on this blog as “insufferable.”

Happy New Year!

Another Voice

January 1st, 2013
7:06 pm

LOL … political pressure, favors called in … Sam Williams and his overpaid staff at the Metro Chamber used to say hideous things about the AJC and how the AJC was so liberal and would never support any business initiatives. Always made me wonder how the executives from Cox Enterprises could stand to walk into that crowd. Williams would drag every chamber president to meet with the AJC to try and “turn them” to support Chamber initiatives. That worked out well for the city, didn’t it? All that help to get APS improved, and then we become the laughingstock of the nation for our education scandal. And don’t even start with the Chamber and the heavy handed campaign for the Transporation referendum. If they hadn’t gone in trying to get every politician’s wish list project on the list, we might have actually gotten support for a more rational and measured transportation iniatitive. instead, we blew that chance, because unlikely Legislature will ever ‘delegate’ that kind of decisionmaking to voters.

Old timer

January 1st, 2013
7:08 pm

The arts are very important to the development of the mind and yes, it keeps kids in school. And, even though not a sports fan…,basketball, track, swimming, soccer etc. keep tons of kids in school. We all need it. Both of my children majored in arts…music and performance in college, but they also participated in sport programs in High School and college. It is all important.

Dekalb Teacher

January 1st, 2013
7:09 pm

As a music teacher of 20+ years I can say that I am always assessing my students be it aural, performance, verbal or written. Yes they are not “standardized” tests but they are in correlation with music CCGPS. One big concern I and many of my colleagues have is how can they come up with adequate standardized testing for the arts and P.E. if we are not all on the same schedule? Some of us see our classes more regularly than others. Some of us get virtually no planning time. Some of us teach more than one of the arts (general music, orchestra, band, chorus). Also we teach K-5 in elementary school. When are we supposed to sit down and grade all of these tests? They really need to put a lot of thought into how they are going to make this fair for everyone.
FYI – testing of the arts does happen in public schools in the rest of the world. It’s nice that America is finally catching up.