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- Strategies For Low-Performing Schools
and At-Risk Youth
- Following is a statement by VH1 President John Sykes and
- Save the Music Executive Director Bob Morrison to the
- Governors Association on February 25, 2001:
- As you are well aware, we are entering a time of intense focus
- our country on improving our schools. As a citizen and a
- is a breath of fresh air to see that providing our children
- best possible education has brought everyone in this room
- It is an issue that transcends political boundaries. I know it
- priority for the group gathered here today, and I promise you
- also one for us in the business community.
- You've heard it here today. The question is no longer
- reform is needed. The debate has now centered on how. This
- particularly true when we focus on reform efforts in low
- performing schools and for our "at risk" youth.
- While we do not pretend to have the solution to the larger
- how to improve our schools, we do believe we have an important
- the solution: Music Education. When I say music education, I
- referring to the exposure of our children to music (like
- classical CD's or taking kids to an orchestra concert). I am
- about the sequential acquisition of skills and knowledge in
- am talking about making and playing music, as part of the
- curriculum, available to all children.
- That is why we started the VH1 Save The Music Foundation. VH1
- The Music is a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring
- education in our public schools and to raising awareness about
- importance of music participation for our nation's youth. We
- primarily through VH1's reach into 74 million U.S. television
- Due to competing demands for time and money in our public
- music and arts education programs have, in many communities,
- eliminated over the past 30 years. The devastation to these
- has been most significant in our more urban and rural schools.
- recurring theme I have found...in visiting schools across
- country...is that high-performing schools, without exception,
- a robust music and arts education program while low-performing
- in most instances do not.
- The elimination of music programs has occurred against
- backdrop of a growing body of scientific research that has
- reinforcing what many of us in the music community have
- all along: Music Education Builds Brain Power. It is a key
- improving academic performance and a key to helping
- students and low performing schools.
- I won't ask you to take my word for it. Let's look at the body
- In a study released last year, second graders from a low
- school in Los Angeles were given eight months of piano
- training, as well as time playing with newly designed
- software. The result? These students, taking the Stanford 9
- Test, went from scoring in the 30th to the 65th percentile.
- second graders were performing sixth grade math.
- (Neurological Research, March 15, 1999; Gordon Shaw,
- University of California, Irvine)
- A related study by University of Wisconsin Professor, Dr.
- Rauscher published in 1997 in the Scientific Journal
- Research showed that children involved with keyboard
- at early age showed significantly enhanced abstract
- abilities, critical to success in science and complex
- After learning about this research, the Wisconsin School
- Kettle Moraine wanted to see how this concept would work in
- world. They implemented a program that replicated the Rauscher
- using kindergarten students and group piano instruction. At
- of the school year, students in classes that had received
- keyboard instruction outscored those who received no
- instruction by 46 percent! The program has since expanded to
- through 6 students across the entire district.
- The critical point here is the students were not taught math
- music...they were taught music. It was the process of
- music that helped improve their math skills.
- (Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 2000)
- One of the issues for at-risk youth is drug and alcohol abuse.
- 1999 report released by the Texas Commission on Drugs and
- Alcohol abuse found that students involved in band or
- (when compared against other student activities) reported
- lowest lifetime and current use of all substances (alcohol,
- or drugs).
- (1999 Texas Commission On Drug and Alcohol Abuse)
- According to the College Board, students involved with
- score an average of 100 points higher on SAT tests than
- who do not. The longer a student has been involved with
- instruction, the greater the difference.
- (College Board Survey of SAT Test Takers 2000)
- In another study, Dr. James Catterall of UCLA analyzed the
- records of 25,000 students from the NELS88 Database as
- moved through school. He found that students who studied
- had higher grades, scored better on standardized tests, and
- better attendance records. When he factored in economic status
- also found that students from poorer families who studied
- improved their overall school performance at the same rate
- faster than all others.
- (Dr. James Catterall, UCLA, 1997)
- In spite of this evidence, recent public concerns about
- basic skills in reading and mathematics have led some
- districts to narrow their curriculum, eliminating subjects
- music, in an effort to improve scores on standardized
- The result has been the creation of an educational and
- caste system. A system of have and have-nots. A system
- the elementary school children in the suburbs surrounding
- Baltimore all have music. But, in the city, only 13 of
- elementary schools include music. The same is true for other
- from Boston to Los Angeles, Milwaukee to New Orleans.
- So...on the one hand, we have all of this research. On the
- hand we have this unfortunate reality.
- Inspired by much of this research, and stunned by our first
- knowledge of the limitation of music instruction in New York
- public schools, we formed our VH1 Save The Music Foundation
- 1997...In many instances, our work in a community is the
- time many of these schools have had instrumental music
- in more than 20 years.
- Besides the academic impact of music instruction, we were
- pleasantly surprised to find some additional benefits:
- 1. Music programs are a catalyst for creating parental
- in schools. The parents not only come to see their
- perform, they visit the after school rehearsals and interact
- the teachers and school officials. For many parents it is the
- time they have ever visited their child's school.
- 2. Music programs have attracted other members of the
- senior citizens to local business leaders. Once people are in
- school, they are able to see firsthand the efforts of the
- just in music, but in other areas as well.
- 3. Because students are involved in the study of music during
- school day, they practice music after school. It is clear that
- child has an instrument in his or her hand, there is less
- picking up something more damaging, like a crack pipe, a
- bottle or a gun.
- 4. In many instances, music has become the motivating factor
- child to stay in school. Sharon Johnson, from Parham
- [in Cincinnati] has emphatically pointed this out to
us. So have
- hundreds of other principals, teachers, students and parents
- have written to us at VH1. Participation in a school
- program in many instances becomes the only reason a child
- to school.
- So what does the public think of this? A Gallup survey
- last spring showed that:
- - 78% of Americans agree that states should mandate music
- education for all students
- - 85% agree that communities should provide the financial
- resources for these programs
- - And a whopping 93% agree that schools should offer
- instruction as part of the basic curriculum
- I am sure any of you would be happy to have these
- So, we've heard the evidence. What we need now is action.
- here is how you can help:
- As An Organization: We strongly urge that you open the
- on core subjects covered through your efforts with "Achieve"
- look closely at the direct academic benefits of music
- We applaud the work many of you have done and we
- the pressure created by the TIMMS Study to focus on the
- core" subject areas.
- We believe the time has come to include music education in
- of concern, data collection, standards comparisons and best
- reporting. This is a small request. But its impact, and the
- it will send to education officials around the country, will
- Be careful about the unintended consequences often caused
- emphasizing only reading, math, and accountability. We all
- about the need to stress these issues. But, we need to be sure
- we do so in a way that does not send a signal to local
- that this must be done at the expense of music or arts
- We now have solid proof that the two go hand in hand. The
- solution we all seek is not achieved by forcing schools to
- In Your States: Focus on what is happening with music in
- regular curriculum. The real benefits of music and arts
- that we have discussed today come from them being conducted
- an academic subject.
- Examine the research. Develop your own understanding of
- critical impact these programs have on the development of
- children, our schools, and our communities. And don't take
- word for it. Talk to educators in cities and schools across
- state where these music programs are working.
- Do you have policies in place and do you promote policies
- include music education as an equal educational partner (like
- reading, history and science)? We believe you should.
- Do you have standards for the arts? If so, have you
- assessment process? Having standards and an assessment
- for music and arts education sends the unmistakable message
- the arts are a part of a basic education.
- And what would any presentation to a group of
- governors be without a request for more money! Some small
- targeted investments in music can reap years and years of
- educational rewards.
- We are well aware of the challenges you face every day
- leadership for your states. We do not expect you to wake up
- thing every day and think about how to put music and arts
- education back into the classroom. But, we do hope that, based
- the information we are sharing with you today, you will
- its incredible academic power. We believe this so strongly
- have committed millions of dollars of our own. We are not
- lobbyists. We operate a cable television network and we
- parents. Our only vested interest is in our children.
- You know in a business like VH1...there is one part of the
- you never cut! It's called Product Development. Well, the
- children in this country are the future products of our
- They are our future customers, our leaders and our neighbors.
- as Superintendent Floyd [of Cincinnati] said earlier
- "children don't control where they live and they can't vote."
- up to us.
- We hope the NGA and each of you in your own states will
- and adopt these recommendations. We welcome the opportunity
- be your partner in this process.
- We're here to work with you. Bob and I welcome your
- or comments.
- Thank you!
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