By Sen. Bill Monning
The great American composer Leonard Bernstein once said, “Music can name the unnameable, and communicate the unknowable.” This concept, that exposure to music provides intrinsic value outside of just entertainment, is why schools have long made music education a central part of educating the whole child.
While language arts, civics and STEM education are critical in successfully preparing students for a college or career pathway, music education stands as an equally important and influential component of modern pedagogy. Visual and performing arts provide students with opportunities to explore their creativity, improvisation and self-expression—all significant lessons that cannot be extracted from a textbook.
Research on the impacts of a music-rich education have continually shown positive developmental benefits for students, such as improved test scores, emotional growth, increased coordination, memorization, pattern recognition, discipline and neurological development.
The month of March offers us the opportunity to acknowledge the unique benefits of music education through the celebration of “Music in our Schools Month.” This important acknowledgement of music education is celebrated each year with the help of the National Association for Music Education, and provides our schools with the opportunity to highlight the need for expanding these vital programs.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2019-20 state budget proposes the largest-ever funding increase for K-14 education in our state’s history. California’s students will receive a record $80.7 billion in funding, dwarfing the recessionary low of $47.3 billion during the 2011-12 fiscal year. This proposed reinvestment in our schools, teachers and students will allow for the expansion of music education opportunities for students across the state.
Additionally, California recently overhauled its education finance system through the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula and the Local Control Accountability Plans, which require school districts to involve parents and community members in the decisions they make about how education funds are spent.
I encourage those community members who feel strongly about arts and music education in our schools to reach out to your local education leaders with the message that arts funding should continue to be a priority in all our schools.
For information on participating in the Music in Our School’s Month, visit https://nafme.org.
Sen. Bill Monning represents the 17th State Senate District, which includes all of San Luis Obispo and Santa Cruz counties, and portions of Monterey and Santa Clara counties.