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    21st October 2011

    Federal Funding… (a song by that title – and a discussion of music education)

    I have long thought the band Cake was awesome. Now I think they’re awesome and respect their occasional political statements. After making a comment in class about principals at schools with great music programs not worrying about their music instructors helping improve student literacy because those schools – or at least those students – probably don’t have problems with their test scores, and then getting ripped by classmates and professor alike as a generalization that doesn’t always hold true, I went searching for some evidence on the topic either way. Of course it was a generalization – and very few generalizations ALWAYS hold true – and so you have to treat each school and student on an individual, case by case basis… but… in a discussion where we had been role-playing as principal and teacher, discussing the need for literacy development in all subjects – and of course I realize that subject literacy is not the same as the type of literacy that is reflected on standardized test – BUT that IS perhaps the type of literacy that a principal who is looking to keep his or her job would be looking at: the sort that shows up as improved test scores. And there *might* be *some* evidence that shows that *generally* (it is a generalization after all) students who participate in music programs do better on those tests. A USDOE study found that consistent participation in Music Ed throughout junior high and high school lead to *generally* higher test scores in math – a finding that held across all socioeconomic and ethnic groups. (I didn’t find the study itself – it might be dated a decade or two as I found it was cited in a UCLA published paper from 1999, itself quoted on this page [and yes, I know, UCLA is not as awesome as USC, but it’s still a pretty good school]). But who is to say that the link is really such that students who participate in so-called GOOD music programs do better than students in so-so music programs? Oh right, there’s a study that shows that, too. (More here).

    I’ll post my findings here and just not talk in that class next week because I don’t want to be that guy. I’ve been kind of argumentative lately. Maybe because I haven’t been sleeping enough, or because we keep going over the same things in my three classes and no one else raises any questions about them, or maybe because I’m becoming old and senile… but in any case I really don’t want to be that guy. The guy arguing just to argue. So I’ll try to get back to encouragement. And suggestion. Much more effective combination.

    As for how all of this relates to my opening statement about the band Cake, well, in my little search for info, I also ran across this article, in which a member of cake talks about the value of music education. And it also links to one of the bands new videos, for a song called “Federal Funding,” which I think is an interesting statement on a whole ‘nother education topic that I might take on at some point: standardized testing as a key to distribution of federal education funds. That isn’t the only kind of federal funding the song talks about, but if you want to know more, you can check out the song/video here.

    It’s Friday, I have to go flip my laundry. Then clean my kitchen. Then work on all of the schoolwork I have to do for this weekend, which should include another awesome post on this here blog. Does anyone read it anymore?

    I also promise that music is still being worked on, for those of you who care. It is happening, albeit slowly at the moment. And maybe at some point I’ll get on here with a funny story or two from my life instead of just political/educational rambling. Or I’ll just keep ranting about things, like how my doctor from Colorado wouldn’t send a referral to a rehab center here in LA for me because apparently Medicare (my insurance provider) doesn’t like it when doctors write referrals when they haven’t seen a patient in the last 3 months… Yeah, you know, my permanently disabled condition has changed a lot in that extra month since I saw him in May. And my need for a new wheelchair goes on. For me to see a new doc then I’ll still need to have that office send my chart somewhere… what’s the difference between that and a referral? It would actually be easier for them to do the referral.

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    Copyright 2005 by Daryl Holmlund - All rights reserved.