Tessa Tooley

Contributing Writer

Imagine attending a school that didn’t offer any sort of music or art programs. Or being a high school musician whose school’s music program gets taken right out from under your feel.

Doesn’t paint a pretty picture, does it?

This thought is likely to make any taxpaying, sensible American a little disgruntled. Without really looking into the data or research, you would probably believe the country’s future leaders are in jeopardy of being creatively stunted.

It seems every couple of months I hear a news report or see a blog post alarming viewers of the depletion of children and young adult’s art and music education, describing the tragic society we’re turning into by neglecting the country’s children. To some degree, I agree with this. It is important to make children well-rounded adults of the world. However, this education “emergency” isn’t nearly as dire as many media sources make it sound.

It’s true: some of the most influential people in the world played instruments as children, including former President Bill Clinton, James D. Wolfensohn, Benjamin Franklin, Condelezza Rice, Andrea Mitchell, Alan Greenspan and several others. Music has been connected to high academic achievement in several studies and is said to boost brain development.

“Practicing an instrument before age seven likely boosts the normal maturation of connections between motor and sensory regions of the brain, creating a framework upon which ongoing training can build,” Virginia Penhune, a psychology professor at Concordia University told the Huffington Post.

Visual art programs have also been linked to improved cognitive skills.

All of these facts are fine and dandy: however, the facts that aren’t being shared in many of these news reports and blog posts are almost comical.

The National Center for Education Statistics reports a nation-wide 3 percent decrease in the number of elementary and secondary schools offering music programs from 1995 to 2008.

The NCES reports no change in visual arts education in secondary schools, yet a 2 percent decrease in elementary schools.

Yes, 3 percent and 2 percent decreases do signify some schools cutting art and music programs. This is over the course of 13 years. I’m not saying I don’t feel for the handful of schools that have lost these programs in those 13 years, because I do.

What I don’t feel for, though, is the media alarming parents, teachers and most importantly students that their beloved arts and music programs are going to be gone at some point. Not only is it unfair to them, but also it’s also inaccurate.

As a journalist I understand the need for views and hits on a story, but much more important than that is accuracy. If you don’t have accuracy as a reporter, do you really have anything at all?


Photo by Bethany Schram