Five suburban school districts lauded for music education

Five area school districts have been designated among the "Best Communities for Music Education" nationwide.

The National Association of Music Merchants Foundation this week recognized 623 districts in 41 states for their music programs. Among 13 Illinois honorees are Buffalo Grove-based Aptakisic-Tripp District 102; Batavia Unit District 101, Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300; Elgin Area School District U-46; and Indian Prairie Unit District 204 in Naperville and Aurora.

"It's a very small club," U-46 Fine Arts Coordinator Jaimie Giraldo said. "This is a tremendous honor and recognition. (It) reflects our values as a school district and community. We put a lot of value in music education."

U-46 made the list for the first time, which Giraldo attributes to a strong commitment to maintain high quality music curriculum starting in first grade through high school. Students in first through sixth grades have weekly music classes, while it's offered as an elective for middle school and high school students.

The district's community partnerships with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Music on the Fox also enhance its program, she said.

Districts applied to have their music programs vetted by the foundation. The program, now in its 20th year, evaluates schools and districts based on funding, staffing of qualified teachers, commitment to standards, and access to music instruction.

"Every year, new schools and districts are upping their game when it comes to music and the arts, often despite budget and curriculum pressures," said Mary Luehrsen of The NAMM Foundation.

The foundation also recognized 98 schools with its SupportMusic Merit Award for supporting school-based music education programs. Awardees include Naperville Central High School.

A 2018 report from the Arts Education Partnership - co-sponsored by the Country Music Foundation and The NAMM Foundation - found music students do better in English, mathematics and science than their peers without music, and more music and art equals fewer dropouts and suspensions.

The Every Student Succeeds Act also recommends music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education.

"Music education is such an important part of brain and social development and allows our children an outlet for personal expression and connection to their community that is seldom paralleled," Giraldo said.

Batavia High School's show choir, Swingsingers, performs at the annual Chicagoland Showcase at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights. Batavia Unit District 101 is among five suburban school districts selected as the "Best Communities for Music Education" nationwide. Daily Herald File Photo, 2015
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