Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bennett-Ritz Debate and Gubernatorial, State Superintendent Candidate Statements on Music and Art Education

Here is the link to the radio broadcast of the only Bennett - Glitz political debate that was held for Indiana voters by Northeast Indiana Public Radio .

A questionnaire pertaining to Music Education in Indiana was submitted to the candidates for Governor and Superintendent of Public Instruction. The responses from Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg, Republican State Superintendent of Public Instruction incumbent Tony Bennett, and Democratic candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz are provided after each question. Gubernatorial Libertarian candidate Rupert Boneham and Republican candidate Mike Pence did not submit responses.

Do you believe music education should be a part of the core curriculum for grades K-12 in Indiana schools?

Gregg: When we talk about education we hear a lot about math, science and reading, and for good reason-these skills are the building blocks for education. But learning is more than just these basic building blocks. Our kids need a rich education-one that includes music, along with art and physical education. A well-rounded curriculum will keep our kids interested and engaged in the classroom.

I am also the proud parent of a former high school band member that is now in a percussion ensemble at Vincennes University.

Boneham & Pence: No response.

Bennett: I believe music education is an integral part of students' overall academic experience. Music education helps enhance and support student learning in mathematics, English/Language Arts, Science-all subjects. The ways local schools and educators decide to incorporate music into the curriculum should be a reflection of student needs and local community values. As school leaders and school board members create school budgets, class schedules and calendars, music education is an integral part of the discussion.

Ritz: Yes, I believe music education should be a part of the core curriculum for grades K-12 in Indiana schools.  Schools should not have to cut music programs from their curriculum due to funding or "academic" requirements.  Music offers students an opportunity to discover their talents and to learn through unique expression.

Should all Indiana students have the opportunity to be taught music by a certified music educator?

Gregg: Having a dedicated teacher can make all the difference in the world in a student's life. All of our kids should have access to qualified teachers, no matter the school and no matter the subject.
Boneham & Pence: No response.

Bennett: We know that teachers have a tremendous impact on the long-term academic and career success of their students. Our commitment must be to ensure all students have access to a great teacher. To do so we must provide local school leaders the flexibility they need to make decisions based on student needs.                                        

Ritz: Yes, Indiana students should have the opportunity to be taught music by a certified music educator.  I oppose the proposed REPA II rules on licensing that would mean teachers could just "take a test" from Pearson to become a licensed music teacher.

Boneham & Pence: No response.

If an attempt is made to eliminate or severely reduce funding for music education in the next session of the general assembly, would you intervene with legislative leaders?

Gregg: Yes. We believe that music and art education is vital to a well-rounded education. Studies have shown that students with a background in music and art consistently perform better in other subjects.

We have heard a lot of talk about surpluses, but the truth is that we don't know how much money we have until an independent audit is completed, and if there is a surplus it has been obtained through slashing education funding. Balancing the budget on the backs of our children is simply unacceptable, and when I am governor that will not happen.

Bennett: School funding decisions are not made in this way at the state level. The Indiana General Assembly is responsible for developing a biennial state budget, which includes school funding; however, local school districts determine how that money is spent on programs and curricula to support student learning. With that said, I strongly encourage each parent and guardian to advocate at the local level for continued funding for programs important to their students.

Ritz: Yes, I would work with the General Assembly to stop any attempt to reduce funding for music education.

Boneham & Pence: No response.

What do you foresee as the greatest challenges facing music education in Indiana?

Gregg: As a former band parent, I understand that two greatest challenges facing music education in Indiana are standardized testing and funding. The more emphasis there is on standardized testing, the less focus there is on music education. Additionally, it hurts funding for music and other arts because school funding is tied to standardized testing, not having a well-rounded curriculum. Our education system, including music education, is at a critical junction. We must ensure our kids have access to good teachers and a quality education, from pre-kindergarten through college or technical school. I have an early childhood education plan to fully fund all-day kindergarten and to begin a pre-K pilot program. Indiana is one of only 8 states that does not fund pre-K education, and that is unacceptable. We need to get our kids ready to learn from day one.
We also need to make sure that when discussions of education reform take place, we give teachers a seat at the table. Under my administration the days of denigrating and scapegoating teachers will end.

Bennett: The most important challenge before us is how to ensure students receive the type of education that will prepare them for success after high school. We know that 31% of Indiana high school graduates attending public colleges are in Indiana need of remediation. Additionally, nearly two-thirds of all new jobs require at least some level of postsecondary education. We must continue to prepare our students for the future, and by making sure they receive quality, challenging instruction in all subjects, which ultimately offers students more opportunities to succeed.

Ritz: The greatest challenges facing music education in Indiana under Tony Bennett include loss of funding, REPA II licensing proposal, and academic high-stakes testing.

Boneham & Pence: No response.

What place does music education have in your education reform goals?

Bennett: Driving student success is my number one goal. Due to the value music education brings students; I believe it is vital we strengthen these co-curricular activities at the local level. Communities, parents and students need to exercise their right to a well-rounded education and demand quality curriculum, activities and educators in all subject areas, including music education.

Ritz: Music and the arts are vital to developing the whole child and nurturing students' talents.  All Indiana children K-12 deserve a well-rounded curriculum which must include music. 

Boneham, Gregg & Pence: No response.

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