Press Release: DC Rally Stresses the Importance of Music in Schools

Celebrities and Students Deliver More than 120,000 Petition Signatures Supporting Music and Arts Education to Secretary of Education

Washington, DC Rally Stresses the Importance of Making Music Mandatory Subject in “No Child Left Behind”

Washington, D.C. (June 18, 2009) – More than 120,000 petition signatures were delivered to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today by celebrities and hundreds of students from all over the United States at a rally in support of music and arts education. The petitions urge the administration to recognize music and arts as mandatory subjects. While recognized as core subjects under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA – formerly known as “No Child Left Behind”), which is currently up for reauthorization, music programs are being cut nationwide to due to shrinking education budgets.

Music educators represented by MENC: The National Association of Music Education were joined by celebrities, students and elected officials in an effort to change this trend, encouraging the Administration and Congress to revise ESEA to ensure music and the arts are mandatory core subjects for all students so these programs will continue to receive financial support in light of budget reductions.

MENC Executive Director Dr. John Mahlmann stated “Research shows that music education at an early age is strongly associated with the likelihood that a child will graduate from high school, seek higher education and ultimately earn a higher salary. In this economy, we need to give our children every tool we can in order to lay the foundation for success. Music education is not just a ‘feel good’ subject. It helps to sharpen academic skills in math and other subjects and provides important socialization skills such as team work.”

MENC members all over the country have reported a reduction in budgets. One teacher has gone from serving one elementary school to dividing her time among three each week. “This is a prime example of how budget cuts are impacting access to music education,” stated Barbara Geer, MENC President.

A 2007 Harris Interactive Poll report found that 83 percent of people whose income is higher than $150,000 participated in music education. Another Harris study (2006) found schools with music programs have a significantly higher graduation and attendance rate (90.2 percent compared to 72.9 percent and 93.3 percent compared to 84.9 percent, respectively). Additionally, The College Board (2006) reports that SAT takers with coursework in music performance scored 57 points higher on the verbal portion and 43 points higher on the math portion.

“We are here today to make a joyful noise in support of music education. We hope that the presence of hundreds of students today, some from as far away as Alaska conveys to Secretary Duncan and Congress how important music is in the development of students who will become our future leaders. Keeping music in schools is crucial,” actress and music education advocate Florence Henderson added.

Other notable rally attendees included former National Basketball Association star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, nationally syndicated “Funky Winkerbean” cartoonist Tom Batiuk, and Mrs. America 2009 Maureen MacDonald.

“Without music, I would not be where I am today,” said Congressman Joe Crowley, D-New York, 7th District. New York’s P.S. 83 elementary school rock band the “Rockin’ Bulldogs,” from Crowley’s district, performed at the rally. The school’s music program was restored by the VH1 Save the Music foundation and, as a result, its music students were able to travel to Washington, DC to show their support for the mandate. “Music was part of what excited me about going to school every day, and my love for it has stayed with me throughout my life. It has enhanced all aspects of my life, and it is my hope that we can work together to ensure all children have the same opportunity.”

The rally is part of the first annual Music Education Week in Washington, which features professional development seminars for music educators, Capitol Hill visits, and student performances at the Lincoln Memorial, the Air Force Memorial and the Kennedy Center. To learn more, please visit
MENC: The National Association for Music Education, among the world’s largest arts education organizations, marked its centennial in 2007 as the only association that addresses all aspects of music education. Through membership of more than 75,000 active, retired, and pre-service music teachers, and with 60,000 honor students and supporters, MENC serves millions of students nationwide through activities at all teaching levels, from preschool to graduate school.

MENC’s mission is to advance music education by encouraging the study and making of music by all. Since 1907, MENC has worked to ensure that every student has access to a well-balanced, comprehensive, and high-quality program of music instruction taught by qualified teachers. MENC’s activities and resources have been largely responsible for the establishment of music education as a profession, for the promotion and guidance of music study as an integral part of the school curriculum, and for the development of the National Standards for Arts Education. MENC is located at the National Center for Music Education in Reston, VA.