Do you struggle to fully fund your music program through your school’s budget? This question was posed recently on the general music forum. Participants had several suggestions:
- NAfME member Christine Nowmos suggests referring to state or national standards. “When requesting materials, justify the need with a specific standard number.” Hand drums, for example, can help meet Standard 2 (performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music) as well as the standards for improvising, composing, and reading music (3, 4, and 5).
- Another participant recommends dividing the amount requested by the number of students in the music program for the per-pupil cost. This also shows the number of students who would benefit from the investment (often all students in the school).
- While one teacher was at a school board meeting, the superintendent asked for budget requests. When she stood and requested materials and equipment for the music program, the superintendent asked for requisitions, which ultimately brought thousands of district dollars to her music program.
Another approach is to build support for the music program in the school and the community. Track the resources used in your school to support music education. Then share this information with parents, your school board, and the community, and compare it with other local schools and the national Opportunity to Learn Standards.
Ways to build support and funding for the music program:
- With the school board—Schedule student performances at all school board meetings, and ask music advocates to speak to the board.
- With the community—Reach out to the business community for support and as a venue for student performances.
- With the PTO—Speak about upcoming concert dates and what you’d like to plan for the music program, and set up student performances at meetings.
Visit the Advocacy Groundswell section of NAfME’s Web site to see our How-To Advocacy Guides for more ideas and the music education advocacy brochure series. There are lots of proven benefits of music education; make sure your administrators and school board know what they are so you can get the budgetary support your program deserves.
–Linda Brown, June 4, 2008 © National Association for Music Education