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Monday, November 11, 2013

Two Art worlds, one rich in music and the arts, and a traveling one for the other 99%

For a look at how America treats music education in urban school, you need go no further than LAUSD's Linda Mouradian, a traveling music teacher, budget cuts, and waiting lists.  Her music room is a fits has to fit in the trunk of her car:
"Linda Mouradian's morning often goes like this: she fishes through a packed supply closet to grab some extra reeds for woodwinds, refills a candy bag, and pulls a load of laundry out of the dryer - not of clothes, but cleaning rags to wipe off white boards. 
Then Mouradian piles it all into the trunk of her car, where she keeps a cart filled with sheet music and other supplies.
Mouradian is a traveling instrumental music teacher for Los Angeles Unified School District. She juggles her work schedule between four different elementary schools.
"You need to have every single thing," she said. "You can't rely on anything being there for you."
Music is not an NCLB, or RTTT priority. It does not fit neatly into their god of all measures those little bubble sheet tests.  Today's modern education reformers have money for new standards, new testing, and now money for expensive data tracking systems to follow our children from kindergarten to college. In 2009 The United States Department of Education allocated 53.6 billion for education reform. Their reforms led to more testing, the Common Core, larger class sizes, fewer teachers, and less art and music for poor and working class children.
Perhaps the workforce of the twenty-first century does not need art and music? Perhaps all they'll need do is learn to fill in bubble sheets, press the right buttons, and do what they are told. Perhaps like Alfred Lord Tennyson's "The Light Brigade" the workforce of the twenty-first century is: "Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do & die." “Someone had blundered.”..“not to make reply...not to reason why,” they followed orders and rode into the “valley of death.”
What if the twenty first century becomes the century without music and the arts for the children of the poor and working class?
Did not Tennyson warn us about the valley of death?
"Into the valley of Death 
   Rode the six hundred. 
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’ 
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew 
   Someone had blunder’d: 
Their’s not to make reply, 
Their’s not to reason why, 
Their’s but to do and die: 
Into the valley of Death 
53.6 billion, and no plan for music and the arts, only more standards and more testing.
Surely these Education Deformers had blunder'd. They love music and the arts. They must be advocates for the them. Or perhaps music and the arts are for their children, and for our children....well we get the Common Core.
I wonder if the school where Bill and Melinda Gates sent their children to had traveling music teachers? I wonder if their school ever faced cuts in music or art education?
Silly me, they are the connected, the powerful, the wealthy, and their children get it all. Our children get the Common Core.
What does art and music look like in Bill Gates old Lakeshore High School? 
At Lakeside has an art department, (image from Lakeside webpage). 
At Lakeside every student gets the arts. They have a whole curriculum for the arts and music and a philosophy. Their curriculum offerings are too numerous to fit my blog, but I can share their art's philosophy.

"Course Offerings by Department

"Our educational philosophy:
Arts experience is an essential part of any education, and the creation of art and the joy
of personal expression are vital to the development of important life skills. Experience producing art extends each individual’s creative capacities, and supports greater success across the traditional academic program. Through the artistic process students in all areas of artistic study develop an understanding of aesthetics, visual thinking, and imaginative problem-solving, as well as how to communicate ideas and emotions. Art production and the collaborations our program provides are empowering, and we encourage students to engage in the creative process throughout their academic career at Lakeside."

"Our program: We seek to help students of varied backgrounds, with varied previous experiences, learn and further develop artistic techniques through directed, sustained effort and personal reflection. We encourage realistic self-assessment leading to technical growth by asking students to create and perform. We encourage students to take risks within a safe, supportive, and structured classroom environment. We teach collaboration while helping students to gain personal mastery."

"The process enables students to assess and appreciate the quality of their work and connect their individual vision with arts of other cultures. Lakeside arts courses are generally structured and scheduled as yearlong courses. We have found the yearlong
experience much more effective and efficient than semester equivalents in promoting and achieving depth of learning, skill development, and proficiency of self-expression, as well as in providing the scope to ensure all students experience personal success."

They have year round courses in DRAMA, VOCAL MUSIC, INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC, VISUAL ARTS, and MULTIMEDIA COURSES. Of course Lakeside is a private school whose children come are chosen from the connected, the politically powerful, and the wealthy. These courses come with fees. How much does Lakeside charge these millionaires for these year long music and arts courses? Around 90 bucks a course. A drop in the bucket for a school that charges 28,500 dollars without food, books, bus, laptop, and field trips. Their music and arts courses are a steal for millionaires and billionaires. ART MATTERS to the wealthy, the powerful, and the politically connected. 

When our second president John Q. Adams said: “I must study politics and war, that my sons may study mathematics and philosophy…in order to give their children the right to study painting, poetry, music and architecture.”  I doubt he meant some children get some painting, poetry and music, and others get it all. My thinking is President Adams could not fathom 53.6 Billion for schools without music and art at the center of learning.  
The government missed the boat, but what of our nation's philanthropists? Well, most missed that boat as well. Of course Bill and Melissa Gates could have used their billions to fund music and arts education in our nation's public schools, but the Common Core, Cameras in classrooms, online teacher evaluation systems called Bill not music or the arts. 

Our nation's poor will be prepared to become little worker bees for the twenty-first century. The bosses will get their sweat, blood, and pain. Music and arts well a few drive-bys won't stop them from their ride into the valley of death.
God bless you Linda Mouradian, and all of America's traveling music and art teachers. You are our saints, our working class heroes that keep the music alive, and put the color into our souls.
Love, love, love you all, 
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you want to know what song the the Walking Man was listening to on his walk today it was don Mclean's Vincent, (starry, starry night)



  1. Our canvases are the walls of our abandoned buildings and subway cars brother, our music halls are the street corners of our fallen young. America does not care about art and music for poor children we get Xboxes.

  2. You are right, Jesse. This country was known for the arts. The arts help lift poor children out of their dire circumstances. But you can't test the arts....

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