The National Association of Music Merchants Foundation recently recognized state school districts as best communities for music education.
Among the recognized from Greater Rochester are the Brighton, Brockport, Churchville-Chili, East Irondequoit, Greece, Honeoye, Honeoye Falls-Lima, Newark, Palmyra-Macedon, Penfield, Penn Yan, Pittsford, Rochester, Rush-Henrietta, Wayne, Webster and West Irondequoit school districts.
The BCME program, now in its 20th year, honors schools and school districts for the outstanding efforts of teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders in making music education part of the core curriculum.
In cooperation with researchers at the Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas, the BCME program evaluates schools and districts based on funding, staffing of highly qualified teachers, commitment to standards and access to music instruction.
The NAMM Foundation is recognizing 623 school districts in 41 states in 2019 out of the nation’s more than 13,000 school districts. New York state accounts for 24% of all BCME awards given to school districts nationwide.
“We have some school communities that have received this recognition year after year. A few have been there for 20 years,” said Mary Luehrsen from the NAMM Foundation. “Every year, new schools and districts are upping their game when it comes to music and the arts, often despite intense budget pressures.”
Many districts strengthened music and arts education programs since the passage of the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act by Congress and, with it, greater flexibility in what they may teach. Not all school communities are in harmony when it comes to promoting the arts and music education.
“The sad reality is that we have music programs in many secondary schools only because of candy sales and other fundraising efforts, rather than being a line in the school or district budget,” Luehrsen said. “Elementary schools are less able to raise funds for music programs, and as a result thousands of elementary schools lack music teachers and music programs.”