Baltimore County Public Schools released the following statement on May 5:
Baltimore County Public Schools has been named again as one of the nation’s "Best Communities for Music Education." The 2014 designation was made by the NAMM Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing participation in music making.
This year, 376 school districts were selected as Best Communities for Music Education and 92 individual schools received SupportMusic Merit Awards. Baltimore County Public Schools first received the Best Communities honor in 2004 and then has every year since 2006.
“We are quite proud of our music program and all of our fine arts instruction,” said Superintendent Dr. S. Dallas Dance. “It is an essential part of ensuring that our students have a well-rounded education. In our school system, music is mandatory and yearlong for all kindergarten through eighth-grade students because we understand that the arts enrich our students and improve their academic achievement.”
Baltimore County employs more music teachers than any other Maryland jurisdiction, and students can choose among extensive offerings including courses in electronic music, world music, and Advanced Placement music theory. Students perform throughout the community in choral groups, jazz ensembles, steel bands, orchestras, and marching bands. In addition, partnerships with some of the area’s leading arts organizations, such as the Hippodrome Theater and Lyric Opera Baltimore, provide opportunities to see and interact with professional performers. A partnership with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra allows students to learn from and perform alongside professional musicians, and the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras serves as ensemble-in-residence at a BCPS school, George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology.
In a NAMM Foundation press release, Mary Luehrsen, executive director of the NAMM Foundation, said, “These schools and districts make a strong commitment to music education in the core curriculum, supporting its essential value to a well-rounded education for every child. Strong, engaging programs that offer students access to music cannot thrive in a vacuum. The Best Communities designation and the SupportMusic Merit Award bring hard-won visibility to music classes, programs and departments that are keeping music education alive in our schools.”
Now in its 15th year, the Best Communities program evaluates schools and districts based on funding, staffing of highly qualified teachers, commitment to standards, and access to music education. The NAMM Foundation with the assistance of researchers at The Institute for Educational Research and Public Service of Lawrence, Kansas (an affiliate of the University of Kansas) evaluate participants on these factors. Designations are made to districts and schools that demonstrate an exceptionally high commitment and greater access to music education.