Education Funding Letter to the Editor

Calif. Schools Need to Restore Music Education Programs

February 04, 2014 1 min read

To the Editor:

Recent reforms to California’s school funding system have rightly been lauded by many educators, parents, and politicians in the Golden State. But it is essential that local school officials, who are exercising new autonomy via the revamped system, restore funding to an area hit early and often in the budget crisis: school music programs.

When the recession arrived in 2008, funding for music education evaporated. Within a year, legislators in Sacramento had diverted $109 million slated for music and art programs, forcing half of California’s public schools to shutter their music programs. As a result, there are now 700,000 fewer students enrolled in school music classes than before the budget cuts, with California ranking last in the nation in the ratio of music teachers to students.

It stands to reason that music education—as one of the first areas targeted when times got tough—should be among the first beneficiaries now that an economic recovery is afoot. But for that to happen, people have to realize that music programs are far more than a mere luxury.

In fact, the benefits of school music programs are well documented. Research shows that music education not only teaches critical-thinking and time-management skills that boost academic performance across the board, but that it also builds self-esteem, fosters collaboration, and offers a means of emotional and creative expression.

School music classes also improve language development, an important issue in California, where more than 40 percent of students live in homes where English is not the primary language.

Given these obvious benefits, it is incumbent on us to restore funding for music education to precrisis levels. Important steps have been taken at the state level, with legislators increasing overall funding and placing the California Arts Council donation box back on state income-tax forms. The responsibility now lies with local school officials to ensure that music education is accessible to our children for generations to come.

Leif M. Dautch

San Francisco, Calif.

The writer is a deputy attorney general in California’s department of justice, but this letter was not written in his official capacity.

A version of this article appeared in the February 05, 2014 edition of Education Week as Calif. Schools Need to Restore Music Education Programs


Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Embracing Student Engagement: The Pathway to Post-Pandemic Learning
As schools emerge from remote learning, educators are understandably worried about content and skills that students would otherwise have learned under normal circumstances. This raises the very real possibility that children will face endless hours
Content provided by Newsela

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding Some in Congress Fear State Budget Decisions May Undercut COVID-19 Education Relief
A dispute in Wisconsin over coronavirus relief underscores how technical issues and politics are affecting education spending decisions.
4 min read
Image shows an illustration of money providing relief against coronavirus.
DigitalVision Vectors/iStock/Getty
Education Funding There Are Big Funding Gaps Affecting High-Poverty Schools. Can Biden Close Them?
Hurdles lie ahead for a $20 billion bid to create "Title I equity grants" to address long-standing funding inequities.
9 min read
President Joe Biden talks about the May jobs report from the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center in Rehoboth Beach, Del., Friday, June 4, 2021.
President Joe Biden made boosting Title I for disadvantaged students a key part of his education platform on the campaign trail.
Susan Walsh/AP
Education Funding Education Department Issues Directive on Shielding Students in Poverty From Funding Cuts
The agency released the "maintenance of equity" guidance on COVID-19 relief as part of a public-relations blitz on equity amid the pandemic.
5 min read
Image of a $100 dollar bill that is cut into blocks for distribution.
Education Funding New COVID-19 Aid Coalition Highlights Strategies for Retaining Teachers, Digital Learning
The coalition representing school officials, teachers' unions, and others, has pledged a multiyear effort to use relief aid effectively.
2 min read
Mary Euell helps her sons, Michael Henry, left, and Mario Henry, work through math lessons remotely in their Erie, Pa., home.
Mary Euell helps her sons, Michael Henry, left, and Mario Henry, work through math lessons remotely in their Erie, Pa., home.
Christopher Millette/Erie Times-News via AP