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The Budgetary Needs of the Few: Sports vs Music

Posted by on in Ideas in Music Education
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Here’s the golden question: should funding be diverted to support a successful football program that only serves 60 students in a school of 500 if that funding was earmarked for music education which would serve all 500 students?Over the years, physical education in schools has grown in importance and is now mandated for inclusion within every school system of the United States. Yes, some districts may have those Phys Ed classes once per week or once per day, it makes the class impervious to the cutting of budgets.

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After generation upon generation of this, schools have identified with their sports teams whether it be on the elementary level or all the way to a college level. Even when a mediocre team has to suffer budget cuts, parents and students are up in arms and the community typically finds a way to solve the budgetary nonsense.

In some districts, the culture is such that a good football team or good basketball team supersedes the needs of students. That means it won’t be ‘cut’. But quite often, music is. While there are countless studies that link the benefits of music education to increased creative abilities, higher order thinking skills and character development, it is still a tough argument to make in these communities.

So why is there such a competition between music and athletics? There are two reasons. First, it’s easy to say you’re either an athlete or a musician (there are only a handful of exceptions of people who excel at being both). Second, for nearly a century, public schools (and to some extent private & charter schools) have waged a budget war keeping athletics and music as expendable line items. Therefore logically, if the two programs ‘on the bubble’ are competing for the same money we should except nothing else.

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