This year, the NAMM Foundation designates 376 districts as Best Communities for Music Education and 96 individual schools as SupportMusic Merit Award winners. These districts and schools set the bar in offering students access to comprehensive music education.
The BCME program applauds the efforts of teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders working to assure that music education is part of the core curriculum. More than 2000 schools and school districts participated in this year’s survey resulting in a 21% increase in designations.
“These schools and districts make a strong commitment to music education in the core curriculum supporting its essential value to a well-rounded education for every child,” said Mary Luehrsen, NAMM Foundation executive director. “Strong, engaging programs that offer students access to music cannot thrive in a vacuum. The Best Communities designation and the SupportMusic Merit Award bring hard-won visibility to music classes, programs and departments that are keeping music education alive in our schools.”
Now in its 15th year, 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 with the assistance of researchers at The Institute for Educational Research and Public Service of Lawrence, Kansas (an affiliate of the University of Kansas) evaluate participants on these factors. Designations are made to districts and schools that demonstrate an exceptionally high commitment and greater access to music education.
As school districts across the United States grapple with 2014-2015 budget allocations, the announcement of this year’s Best Communities for Music Education designees brings fresh focus to the significance of music education programs. Past designees report that receiving a BCME designation significantly buoyed support for their schools’ music education programs.
“’Best Communities’ has helped us maintain our music budget when other school programs have been greatly impacted by the current economic crunch,” said Richard Tinsley, music education specialist for Henrico County Public Schools in Richmond, VA. “Also, it has been a source of pride for our community, students, and administrators, and is often used as a selling point that local real estate agents use with potential buyers considering home purchases in the Henrico County school locality.”
The BCME program is one of the NAMM Foundation’s foremost efforts to bolster support for school-based music education programs that must be available for all children. Providing music education for all students is something any community can accomplish if it has the collective will to do so, regardless of size or affluence.
Participation of individual schools is notably on the rise as more schools seek the SupportMusic Merit Award. “There are so many talented, committed music teachers whose programs deserve to be celebrated,” Luehrsen said. “The award can raise visibility and advance community support for these innovative, trailblazing, music-education programs.”