School district lacks forethought

Published 9:06 am Friday, April 22, 2011

I am writing this letter in response to the proposed “realignment” of faculty in the Albert Lea School District.

This budget bill includes realigning the elementary school music program so two elementary schools will each have a full-time music teacher, while the other two will share a single music teacher.

I am quite saddened by the lack of forethought in the decision of what programs in the school district can be cut. There have been many studies conducted that have found a link between musical training and success in many aspects of life. For instance, a study done by Dr. James Lateral of UCLA concluded students with musical training had better scores on standardized tests and had better reading proficiency skills. Another study, done by Dr. Christopher Johnson of the University of Kansas, compared the quality of different elementary music programs. That research found that students in top-quality music programs scored 22 percent better in English and 20 percent better in mathematics than students in deficient music programs. Dr Laurel Trainor of McMaster University studied how musical training affected the development of the brain — her research found that lessons in music correlated positively with improvement in literacy, verbal memory, mathematics and IQ scores.

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In addition to the above, research has been done on countries and their overall musical performance. The nations of Hungary, Japan and the Netherlands place a high value on musical training and have required both instrumental and vocal musical training in elementary and middle schools for the past several decades. These countries are known worldwide for science and academic achievement.

Decreasing music teachers and the quality of the Albert Lea School District’s music program will not help the students succeed and will instead take away the many benefits of a sound music program.

Kristin Sandager

Albert Lea