The LEARNING-DISADVANTAGE GAP: Our Moral and Legal Challenge to K-12 SOCIO-ACADEMIC Discrimination

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Principals reject ‘value-added’ assessment that links test scores to educators’ jobs

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A therapist goes to middle school and tries to sit still and focus. She can’t. Neither can the kids.

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A dozen questions for school reformers who say one thing and do another

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Principal: It’s time for more educators to speak up about the cost of ‘reform’

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A student’s plea for help — and a superintendent’s heartfelt response

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Your children deserve better than this, first-grade teachers tell parents

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What it really means to be a public school educator today

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Are education groups really listening to their members?

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Teacher to parents: About THAT kid (the one who hits, disrupts and influences YOUR kid)

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Why we are looking at the 'value' of college all wrong

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‘This. Means. War.’ Mom sends message to education commissioner.

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The rise of the anti-standardized testing movement

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High-achieving teacher sues state over evaluation labeling her ‘ineffective’

"The lawsuit will be worth watching because it is taking on the entire notion of VAM. If VAM were to fall in New York, more legal challenges would be likely in other states." (full article)

Eleven civil rights groups urge Obama to drop test-based K-12 ‘accountability’ system

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Does Arne Duncan think ‘suburban moms’ are a gullible bunch?

"The heck with Brown v Board of Education—as long as kids have the civil right to be tested each year, social justice is served... So why is the preservation of No Child Left Behind testing so important to Arne Duncan and the reformer Chiefs? Tests are the rock on which all of their reforms are built—tests to evaluate school quality, tests to evaluate teachers, and of course the two national tests to measure the implementation of the Common Core.... And that really sums up the thinking of Duncan and his cheerleading Chiefs. Their distrust of public schools and the democratic control of schooling run deep. It colors every solution that they propose. They have no idea how to effect school improvement other than by making tests harder and making sticks bigger. When punishing the school did not work, it morphed into punish the teacher through evaluations based on test scores. The reality that no country has ever improved student learning using test and punish strategies is lost on those who refuse to address the greater social issues that we who do the work confront every day... When one argues that testing 8-year-olds for nine hours is the way to give a child his civil rights, then moral authority is surely gone. The public knows it. Moms, of all colors and neighborhoods, are a heck of a lot smarter than Mr. Duncan and his reform supporters believe." (full article)

‘Be picky’ and 24 other great tips for teachers on how to manage a classroom

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Teacher spends two days as a student and is shocked at what she learns

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Another very scary headline about kindergartners

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Teachers as ‘conscientious objectors?’ Status sought for those who oppose high-stakes tests

"There is something deeply wrong with a system in which teachers and principals are afraid to act in the best interest of children... " (full article)

Why getting kids ‘college and career ready’ isn’t enough

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Tweets from parents, teachers and others about why they don't want their children or students to take high-stakes standardized tests:
"#whyIrefuse because I did not get a masters degree to teach to an invalid test."  ̶  I ♥ to teach @ BAT_teacher
"#whyIrefuse - teachers should NOT be evaluated on worthless test scores"  ̶  Badass Teachers Asso @ BadassTeachersA (full article)

What the Common Core standards can’t do

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The link between housing policy and student achievement

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An educator challenges the Gates Foundation

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Educating kids isn’t rocket science. It’s harder.

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The right — and surprisingly wrong — ways to get kids to sit still in class

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How to start cleaning up the Common Core

"... Implementation of the standards has been severely troubled, the testing regime that is supposed to be aligned with the Core is falling apart and increasingly people from different parts of the political spectrum have distanced themselves from the enterprise... So now what? Where does the Core go from here? In the following post, award-winning New York Principal Carol Burris offers three first steps toward cleaning up the Core mess... " (full article)

Colorado student protest leader: ‘I’m learning how people need to act to make a democracy function’

"Kyle Ferris is a student at Columbine High School in Jefferson County, Colo., and a leader of protests that have been rocking the school system there for weeks. In the following Q&A, Ferris explains why he started protests at his school and what he and others hope to achieve from their demonstrations as well as what he is learning about American democracy." (full article)

‘Schools of Opportunity’ – a new project to recognize schools that give all students a chance to succeed

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Make a Difference: Show Students You Care

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Professor: Why I tell students to become teachers — even though the profession is under assault

Why, given the continuing assault on the teaching profession, would anyone suggest to young people that they consider becoming teachers? Here’s why, from Mark Naison, a professor of African American Studies and History at Fordham University and director of Fordham’s Urban Studies Program. He is the author of three books and over 100 articles on African American History, urban history, and the history of sports. He is also a co-founder of the Badass Teachers Association, an organization formed to resist corporate school reform and school accountability” systems that rely on standardized test scores for high-stakes purposes. (full article)

How much time will new Common Core tests take kids to finish? Quite a lot.

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Colorado school district votes to opt most students out of Common Core testing

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Colorado teacher: 'I refuse to administer the PARCC' Common Core test to my students

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Common Core calls for kids to read books that 'frustrate' them. Is that a good idea?

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Why a kindergarten teacher is running for Congress

"Janet Garrett is a veteran kindergarten teacher in Oberlin, Ohio. She just started her 35th year of teaching — which will be her last. She is running as a Democrat for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from the 4th Congressional District of Ohio, challenging the conservative Republican incumbent, Jim Jordan. In this post she talks about the fads in education that she has seen come and go, and her concerns about what is happening in kindergarten classes today and the huge amount of testing being given to 5- and 6-year-old students." (full article)

Why ‘no excuses’ charter schools mold ‘very submissive’ students — starting in kindergarten

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Four Common Core 'flimflams'

"Award-winning Principal Carol Burris of South Side High School in New York was once a supporter of the Common Core but came to be a critic after her state began to implement the initiative. (You can read some of her work on the botched implementation in New York here, here, here and here.) Burris was named New York’s 2013 High School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and in 2010, tapped as the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State. In this post she looks at what she calls the “Four Flimflams of the Common Core.”" (full article)

Poll: Most Americans no longer think a college education is 'very important'

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A warning to U.S. about 'educational authoritarianism' — from a Chinese scholar

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Florida drops test after kindergarten teacher took public stand against it

"... teacher Susan Bowles of Lawton Chiles Elementary School in Gainesville, Fla., posted on Facebook telling parents that she was refusing to administer the Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading, or FAIR. She explained what she said were serious problems with administering the test to young students, and said that taking this stance was worth risking her job... " (full article)

Common Core: What's true, false and fuzzy

"Thomas Scarice, the superintendent of Madison Public Schools in Connecticut, has been a vocal critic of high-stakes test-based school reform... he attempts to separate myth from truth about the Common Core State Standards. This appeared on the website of Scarice’s school district and in the Shoreline Times." (full article)

Kindergarten teacher: 'There is a good possibility I will be fired but...' (update)

"Teachers are increasingly speaking up about the onslaught of standardized tests that students in all grades — including kindergarten — are required to take in public schools today. Some are refusing to administer the tests, which can result in a teacher being dismissed for a breach of contract. Here is a letter that a Florida kindergarten teacher, Susan Bowles of Lawton Chiles Elementary School in Gainesville, Florida, posted on Facebook to the parents of the students in her class... " (full article)

Bill Gates wants your kids to learn history this way — and he’s paying to get it into schools

"The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has spent billions of dollars on various initiatives that Gates thought would help improve public education, including a small schools initiative that he abandoned when he didn’t get the results he wanted; pilot programs in creating controversial teacher evaluation systems linked to student standardized test scores; and promotion of the Common Core State Standards." (full article)

Anti-testing movement growing, finding success around country

"A new report on growing resistance to high-stakes standardized testing around the country finds that the movement is growing and meeting some success in numerous states where officials have decided to cut back on the numbers of tests students must take and/or the consequences for students and educators." (full article)

'We must push back against the misguided and dangerous belief that a new generation of teachers can emerge spontaneously'

"The Urban Teacher Education Consortium is a national consortium of teacher educators who are dedicated to development strong preparation programs for cities across the country. Members of the consortium have just released a position paper on the training of teachers, releasing it at a time of “encroaching dehumanization and disempowerment of both teachers and their students.”" (full article)

Does holding kids back a year help them academically? No. But schools still do it.

"It may seem to make sense to hold back for a year a student who can't read well but a mountain of research shows that it doesn't actually help. Unfortunately, school reformers don't seem to care what the research says... " (full article)

Why one school system is dropping Teach for America

"... has voted 6-1 to end its relationship with Teach For America after the 2015-16 school year... " (full article)

Florida county opts out of all state-mandated testing in 'act of civil disobedience'

"Florida's Lee County became on Wednesday night the first school district in the state to vote to opt out of all state-mandated... " (full article)

The quote that reveals how at least one corporate school reformer really views students

"The business community is the consumer of the educational product. Students are the educational product. They are going through the educational system so that they can be an attractive product for business to consume and hire as a workforce in the future." (full article)

Superintendent tells parents what matters most  ̶  and it's not Common Core

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Obama losing public support on education issues, new poll finds

"... Support for President Obama on education issues is waning  ̶  with only 27 percent giving him an A or B  ̶  and a majority of the public saying they oppose the Common Core State Standards and have more trust in their local school board than in the federal government... " (full article)

Poll: Common Core support among teachers plummets, with fewer than half supporting it

"Anybody watching the escalating battle across the country over Common Core State Standards and aligned standardized testing will hardly be surprised by a new national poll which reveals a significant loss of support over the last year ̶. especially among teachers, whose approval rating dropped from 76 percent in 2013 to only 46 percent in 2014. Overall support for the core dropped from 65 percent last year to 53 percent in 2014... " (full article)


We strive to inform, mentor and help all Americans who care to understand what is honestly wrong in K-12 public and charter school education today and how to help make it the best it can be for all students, including the "academically" disadvantaged. Stop high-stakes standardized testing (refer to our Stop High-Stakes Standardized Testing package)!

Parents and Students for Music and Arts (PSMA) actively advocates that every student should receive a complete and well-balanced "whole-student" education, with equal access for all, including music and other arts pre-K through 12th grade. More arts = better futures.

Yes, you can make a difference, and together we will make a difference.

"You must be the 'change' you wish to see in the world."

-Mahatma Gandhi
Schurr High Jazz Band Jefferson Middle School Choir

Why Arts?

When started in earliest education levels, pre-K and beyond music and other arts integrated produces student creativity, ingenuity, resourcefulness, imagination, enthusiasm and so much more, plus it sends the young off with a lasting love of learning. Emphasis on math and English standardized testing barely scratches the surface of kids' intellectual potential. Maximum performance, not the minimum standards measured by tests, should be the institution's aim.

Standards, Curriculum and Assessment
Arts Education: Legislative findings: "The Legislature finds and declares that there is a need to include the arts in the school curriculum as a means of improving the quality of education offered in California's public schools and reinforcing basic skills, knowledge and understanding." (CA EDUC CODE § 8810)

Areas of study, grades 1-6: "Describes subjects that must be taught in grades 1-6 as part of the course study, which include "Visual and performing arts, including instruction in the subjects of dance, music, theater and visual arts aimed at the development of aesthetic appreciation and the skills of creative expression." (CA EDUC CODE § 51210)

Areas of study, grades 7-12: "Describe subjects that must be taught in grades 7-12 as part of the course of study, which include "Visual and performing arts, including dance, music, theater and visual arts, with emphasis upon development of aesthetic appreciation and the skills of creative expression." (CA EDUC CODE § 51220)

Definitions: "'Academic Achievement' means to improve one's ability to engage in academic endeavors and to accomplish study in core curriculum areas such as reading, writing, mathematics, fine arts*, science, vocational education, technology, history or social science." (Cal Code Regs. tit. 2 § 1859.2) *music, visual arts, dance and theater.

Requirements for Graduation: Commencing with the 1988-89 school year, requires one course in visual or performing arts or foreign language. (CA EDUC CODE §51225.3)

Trade Easy Pleasures for More Complex and Challenging Ones
by Gloria Gioia, Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts

"The real purpose of arts education is to create complete human beings capable of leading successful and productive lives in a free society. This is not happening now in America's schools. If the United States is to compete effectively with the rest of the world in a new global marketplace, the educational system must produce students with creativity, ingenuity and innovation. It is hard to see those qualities thriving in a nation who's educational system ranks at the bottom of the developed world and has mostly eliminated arts from the curriculum."

"I worry about a culture that bit-by-bit trades off the challenging pleasures of art for easy comfort of entertainment that is exactly what is happening - not just in the media, but in our schools and civic life. You now face the choice of whether or not you want your children to be passive consumers or active citizens. Do you want them to watch the world on the screen or live it so meaningfully that they change it?"

Research Study Links Music Making and Music Education
by Dr. John,

"A recent research study published in the Journal for Research in Music Education in June 2007 revealed that students in high-quality school music education programs score higher on standardized tests compared to students in schools with deficient music education programs, regardless of the socioeconomic level of community. The research was conducted by Dr. Christopher Johnson, professor of music education and music therapy and associate dean of the School of Fine Arts, University of Kansas, with Jenny Memmot, also of the University of Kansas."

Results from the Elementary Schools: Students in top-quality music programs scored 22% better in English and 20% better in mathematics than students in deficient music programs.

Results from Middle Schools: Students in top-quality instrumental programs scored 10% higher in English than students in without a music program, and 32% higher in English than students in a deficient choral program.

CA Board of Education Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards

Pre-K through Grade 12 - Dance, Music, Theater, Visual Arts. Includes a compelling message from the State Board of Education and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Lean from California's top educators how arts education will affect the futures of our children and exactly how arts can be incorporated into curriculum.

The Arts Education Effect by Sandra S. Ruppert

Why schools with arts programs do better at narrowing achievement gaps. - Benefits of Arts Education
For Spanish version, click here. Excerpt from Current Research in Arts Education: An Arts in Education Research Compendium, published by the California Arts Council.

Why California Must Fund Education by Ted Barone
This high school principal from Albany High School, in Albany, CA brilliantly explains why we don't have a choice.

Arts Education and Graduation Rates by Rachel Lee Harris, NY Times
In a report to be released Monday, the nonprofit Center for Arts Education found that New York City high schools with the highest graduation rates also offered students the most access to arts education.

Rethinking the Essential Role of Music Education by Karen Calhoun
At Julia B. Morrison Elementary, a Title 1 school located in the Norwalk/La Mirada Unified School District in Norwalk, CA, student achievement has improved significantly at Morrison since the school began investing in music education nearly 10 years ago. The school scored 813 in the 2008 API and is now rated a High Performing Title 1 School. In addition, Morrison Elementary was honored as a 2008 California Department of Education Distinguished School.

Don't Lose the Arts in Charleston County's Public Schools by Dr. John,
Why should the schools even bother with music? According to Bruce Boston in Business Week, "In every civilization, the arts have always been inseparable from the very meaning of the term 'education,' and today no one can claim to be truly educated who lacks the basic knowledge and skills in the fourth 'r,' the arts discipline. In truth, it is the arts that provide a cultural and historical context for our lives." Fact 1: There is a direct relationship between SAT scores and the arts study. According to a 1990 study, SAT scores tend to increase with more years of arts study, and the more arts work a high school student takes, the higher scores. Fact 2: A 2007 Kansas study found that students in high quality school music education programs score higher on standardized tests compared to students in schools with deficient music education programs, independent of the socioeconomic level of the school or school district. Fact 3: Students who play a musical instrument receive higher marks in school than their classmates who don't. Not only that, bur according to a study of 5,000 students in Albuquerque, NM, it was discovered that the longer the children had been in instrumental programs, the higher they scored. Fact 4: Approximately 90% of the brain's motor control capabilities are devoted to the hands, mouth and throat. According to experts, the fine dexterity involved with playing a violin can exercise the entire brain and stimulate general intelligence. Fact 5: According to research at the University of Southern California, "Arts instruction has a significant positive effect on basic language development and reading readiness. Fact 6: A study in Colorado found that "members of instrumental music performances ensembles tend to reach higher academic achievement and exhibit lower rates of absenteeism from schools than non-members.

Tucson Schools Enhance Learning with the Arts
At Corbett Elementary School, in Tucson Arizona, classical music floats through the hallways all day. First graders and fifth graders create operas. Every fourth grader learns violin. Kindergarteners meet weekly with a trio from the Tucson Symphony Orchestra to explore rhythm and patterns and to establish literary connections. Corbett is part of a sweeping initiative in the Tucson Unified School District to improve student achievement through an interdisciplinary curriculum that fuses the arts and academic subjects. The project, Opening Mind Through Arts, is built on brain-based learning theories and research into children's neurological development. "OMA is different than just learning music. It uses the integration of the arts to reinforce concepts that students are learning. It gives them the experience of those concepts through music or movement art." The program's founders saw the arts as key to boosting student achievement and improving troubled schools. OMA students significantly outscored their counterparts in reading, math and writing and although the benefits held across all ethnicities, Hispanic students, in particular, made substantial gains in writing. Corbet, a Title 1 school with about 600 students, was one of the original OMA sites, and the program initially met resistance there. Teachers worried about sacrificing precious minutes in an already jammed day to music or dance, recalls Principal Joyce Dillon. "Now they say, 'it's so completely related to what we're teaching.' I never want to give it up."

CNN Video "Changing Education"
He's Oprah Winfrey's "phenomenal man." But what makes Ron Clark a phenomenal teacher? T.J. Holmes went to find out.

KTLA Video "Sierra Madre Elementary School Rated Among State's Best"

Arts Education Touted as Key to US Innovation Agenda by Andrew Trotter
A majority of U.S. voters agree that building students' imaginations to equip young people with the ability to innovate is as important as teaching them the academic basics, according to a poll commissioned by an advocacy coalition for education in the arts.

The Ties Between Failing Schools and a Failing Economy by Thomas L. Friedman, Pasadena Star News
Last summer I attended a talk by Michelle Rhee, the dynamic chancellor of public schools in Washington . Just before the session began, a man came up, introduced himself as Todd Martin and whispered to me that what Rhee was about to speak about - our struggling public schools - was actually a critical, but unspoken, reason for the Great Recession. "Our education failure is the largest contributing factor to the decline of the American worker's global competitiveness, particularly at the middle and bottom ranges" argued Martin, a former global executive with Pepsi Co. Those who are waiting for this recession to end so someone can again hand them work could have a long wait. Therefore, we not only need a higher percentage of our kids graduating from high school and college "more education," but we need more of them with the right education. So our schools have a doubly hard task now; not just improving reading, writing and arithmetic, but entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity.

So Far...From Being Done from
"You can list Michelle A. Rhee's accomplishments since becoming D.C. schools chancellor two years ago today, and they run more than 10 pages: boosting math and reading test scores; putting art, music and physical education classes in every school...but also enhanced professional development for teachers, rigorous after-school and (enrichment programs)."

Workers of the Future Need More Than Calculators and Microscopes by Dr. John,
"Microsoft® has built a 'competency wheel' that defines 37 workplace skills that the corporation values. Only three of these competencies are related to technology, a dramatic illustration that math and science skills are not enough. But where and how do they acquire such important but intangible skills? Most people recognize team sports and especially participation in collaborative fine arts such as instrumental, vocal, visual arts, drama and dance.

And, a 1992 Florida Dept of Education study of at-risk students, 'The Role of the Fine and Performing Arts in High School Dropout Prevention,' found that 75% said their participation in the arts influenced their decision to graduate from high school. More and more research is showing that fine arts make good students better motivate less successful students to stay the course."

Mental benefits of music lessons echo years after practice ends by Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times
"Lapsed musical instrumentalists (and their disappointed parents): Take heart! The child that gets even a few years of formal musical training before quitting those weekly lessons continues to show evidence that his or her brain has changed in ways that improve mental function, says a new study.

The latest research found that even years after they stopped practicing, young adults who had taken as little as two or three years of instrumental music training in their elementary or middle-school years showed a more robust brain response to sounds than those who had no formal music training. The study compared 30 former instrumental students to 15 young adults of similar age and intelligence who had no music training."


Target: Boards of Education
Sponsored by: Parents for Music and Arts (PMA)

I, the undersigned parent/guardian, agree that every student should receive a complete and well-balanced "whole-child" education, which includes equal access for all children to music and other arts pre-K through 12th grade.

Please sign our petition now!!

Parents have the power and we will do this together!

How to sign:

Download the petition and print, sign and email back to us. Students please download this version.

Community School Music and Arts Photos

All links will redirect you to

The High-Stakes Testing Bubble

John C. Thompson - Parents and Students for Music and Arts

NAACP, Equity Matters
"The civil rights movement of the 1950's and 1960's was largely a social struggle for access. The continuing civil rights struggle that has evolved and moved into the 1990's and beyond focuses more on equity."

Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education
"The mission of the Office of Civil Rights is to ensure the equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through vigorous enforcement of civil rights."

Arne Duncan, March 8, 2010
"We are going to reinvigorate civil rights movement."

Arne Duncan, April 9, 2010
"I believe education is the civil-rights issue of our generation...and why arts education remains so critical to leveling the playing field of opportunity. We all know that unacceptable disparities in arts education between low-income and affluent districts continue to persist."

Barack Obama, July 5, 2007
"The ideal of a public education has always been at the heart of the American promise...Don't tell me the only way to teach a child is to spend too much of the year preparing him to fill out a few bubbles in a standardized test."

Arne Duncan, July 9, 2010
"Almost everywhere I went, I heard people express that curriculum has narrowed, especially in schools that service disproportionate numbers of disadvantaged...A we--balanced curriculum is too vital to students and our national character to let teaching of arts and humanities erode."

Linda Hamilton, excerpt from "The Right to Learn
"...the more paperwork teachers are asked to do, the less time they have for teaching; the less time for teaching, the less learning occurs..."

NAACP, "A Call for Action"
"Resource equity in public education is indeed the next most important civil rights island to be conquered. By spending public education monies in a fair and equitable manner, we can ensure that minority students are not shortchanged academically."

Emily Alpert, Voice of San Diego, June 7, 2010
"The students and her friends joked about being the 'stupid class,' so she didn't bother to work hard at school. 'I didn't think I had to try because I was below average anyway,' the eighth grader said."

Tom Horne, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, excerpt from "Schools Matter" blog, June 13, 2007
"It has led to sanity-resistant racist and classist testing practices that pile more reward on the already privileged, while blaming teachers and the children themselves for not correcting the inequalities that are sustained by a persistent avoidance of reality by those with the resources to actually alter that reality..."

Jennifer Mueller, Kansas Journal of Law and Public Safety, Winter 2001
"The ones who bear the brunt of the punitive consequences of high stakes testing are the students...Similarly, the question is not one of lowered - or even varied - expectations for any population of students, but the misuse of an invalid instrument [test] to reinforce negative and false stereotypes...High stakes will reflect the economic ability of students' families to provide private tutorials and preparation devices."

Justice Elena Kagen, U.S. Supreme Court, Senate confirmation hearing, June 30, 2010
"Senator, I hope I know that the principles of Brown v. Board are still relevant today. The idea of equality under law is a fundamental American constitutional value."

Christopher Knaus, "Still Segregated, Still Unequal" from the National Urban League
"Federal assessments are not required for critical thinking, art history, biology or anything specifically related to participating in democratic society, and NCLB provides incentives to eliminate such curricula from 'failing schools.' Increasingly absent from low-income urban schools across the country are creative, flexible, curricula that allows students to express themselves outside the arena of whether or not what they say is on the test. "

Diane Ravitch, education historian, author of "The Death and Life of the Great American School System"
"No nation with successful schools ignores everything but basic skills and testing. "

Jennifer Meuller, Kansas Journal of Law and Public Policy, Winter 2001
"Test should be a means, not an end in-and-of themselves."

Kevin W. Riley, Principal, Meuller Charter School
"I confess. I was a party to denying our kids. We received our test scores from the California Standards test a few weeks ago and we danced for a while because we knew our students had done so well...We now have an Academic Performance Index of 835, which represents a growth of 320 points over the last ten years. And in California, edging above 800 is the name of the testing game. And I wondered: how long can our teachers keep that pace? And now that the AYP bar goes up another 10 points in long can a school keep it up? We all but eliminated science. And social studies. There was so little music. Hardly any arts. Limited time for physical education (Yes, I know it is required by Ed. Code). We didn't have dances on the blacktop like the year before. Or teams. Our students were not asked enough to think critically or creatively. They did not ponder the engineering difficulties of the gulf oil crisis, let alone the long term impact on the natural ecosystems there. They didn't discuss the politics of unemployment or global warming or the conflicts of the culture world-wide. There were no science fair entries or models constructed of the California Missions. They did not solve 'real' problems at all. But they did plenty of practice problems and sample test items that had been released by the California Department of Education so that kids can prepare for the CST. And it paid off in our API. And I confess. I feel like we robbed them, in so many ways, of the joy of learning."

Christopher Knaus, "Still Segregated, Still Unequal" from National Urban League
"NCLB has continued a separate and unequal educational system while shifting the debate from unequal schools to how to measure such schools...Expansion of definitions of academic skills beyond math and English....Important subjects such as art, music, history, biology, speech and social studies must be included in the fabric of schooling...Expansion of assessment to include multiple measures of academic success. Research has shown that in order for assessment to effectively guide school efforts, it must reflect a wide range of student skills and provide a foundation from which to teach."

Walt Gardner's Reality Check Blog - Education Week, August 23, 2012
"Leave it to the British to teach Americans about their common language. A report by the Institute of Education on more than 100 international studies found that obsessing on performance on standardized tests is counterproductive to learning about the subjects evaluated by these tests."

Gary Orfield, Professor of Education and Social Policy, Harvard University, 2007
"I believe that the basic reason that policymakers are ignoring this research is political - it makes them sound as if they have higher standards without having to do anything about it except to flunk students. The more perplexing thing is how the media continually treats this as if it is a new and important idea without seriously examining what is known about the subject."

John L. Benham, Ed.D, Counterpoint
"A financial crisis always exposes an educational philosophy."

Alhambra USD Board President, January 6, 2010
"The foundation of academic success is based on the core academic subjects, specifically in math and English. "

Ed Amundsen, special education teacher, Sacramento, CA
"We spend millions developing and administering a test, we prep kids for it and we still hear from businesses that kids don't have the job skills because what they learned was how to take a test."

Jay Heubert, High Stakes: Testing for Tracking, Promotion and Graduation
"One test does not impose learning anymore than a thermometer cures a fever."

Renee Moore, teacher, Teach Moore Blog
"The goal of education is not to produce great test takers, but to prepare tomorrow's citizens."

Campbell's Law
"Whether under the outgoing ESEA/NCLB punishment, or new ESEA Blueprint's inequitable competitive-funding, the Unequal-Access Rule prevails: What gets tested, gets taught; what is not tested gets unequal or denied access. Teachers are under career-threatening pressures of time constraints and selective testing accountabilities. This increasingly produces teaching to the test; while students of advantage learn, the disadvantaged are learning how to take tests. Teachers face high-stakes conflicts of interest daily, and are trapped in the middle of a system bankrupt of equality that denies and discriminates against its most vulnerable students."

Arne Duncan, April 9, 2010
"Low-income students who play in the orchestra or band are twice as likely to perform at the highest levels in math as peers who do not play. In James Cantterall's well-known longitudinal study, Doing Well and Doing Good By Doing Art, low-income students are art-rich high schools were twice as likely to earn B.A. as low-income students at arts-poor high schools...English language learners are art-rich high-schools were also far more likely than their peers at arts-poor high schools to go onto college. Is it any surprise then to learn of the large impact that arts education has on student achievement and attainment, especially among disadvantaged students?"

Johnny Thompson
"Dances of the Imagination do not evolve without a whole-child education. Selective testing has decimated intellectual growth, creative potential and critical thinking. It has suffocated students' spirit and self-esteem, social and emotional balance, growth as well as curiosity and imagination. It has poisoned the natural love of learning and motivation to succeed in education and life, especially for the disadvantaged."

Jane Alexander, former chair of the National Endowment for the Arts
"Children learn better with arts as part of the curriculum. They learn all their subjects better. They're more engaged. Students attendance goes up. The child is happier; the teacher is happier."

"The American College Testing Service compared the value of four factors in predicting success after high school. 'Success' was defined as self-satisfaction and participation in a variety of community activities two years after college. The one yardstick that could be used to predict later success in life was achievement in school activities [such as music, sports, debate, drama]. Not as useful predictors were high grades in high school, high grades in college or high ACT scores."

Arne Duncan, April 9, 2010
"For decades, arts education has been treated as though it was a novice teacher at school, the last hired and first fired when times get tough. But President Obama, the First Lady and I reject the notion that the arts, history, foreign languages, geography and civics are ornamental offerings that can or should be cut from schools during a fiscal crunch. The truth is that, in the information age, a well-rounded curriculum is not a luxury, but a necessity."

Anthony Cody, teacher, August 15, 2012
"In education, we were told we would enter a new era of 'mutual responsibility,' stop spending the year preparing for bubble tests, and stop blaming teachers for all the problems in our schools... At first, we were dismayed, when cruel practices of NCLB were extended. Did they not understand that what they were doing? Could they see this was not consistent with our shared vision? So we wrote, we organized on Facebook, we lobbied and we spoke by phone with Secretary Duncan. It has become clear they know exactly what they are doing, and nothing we say matters."

Joan Schmidt
"Instead of pitting one subject against another, look at the comprehensive needs of students in the context of education of the whole child."

Martin Luther King, Jr.
"The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and critically. Intelligence plus character, that is the goal of education."

All examples may be caused or aggravated by selective standardized high-stakes testing, which is amplified by the Unequal Access Rule and teaching to the test:
  1. When government(s) do not distribute core academic all funds with equity, which include The Arts.
  2. Attends any public school in California where each week is 2 hours shorter and funding is $2,131 less per pupil that the national average. This disproportionately hurts students of disadvantaged.
  3. Does not have a highly qualified and effective teacher for each core subject. This includes not having any music or arts teacher at all because access is being denied. State education funding requirements, codes and Williams Settlement are being violated in the State of California.
  4. Has below "proficient" API rating in English and/or math testing scores, which profiles and segregates by interventions such as remediation (repeated subject). Government-endorsed selective testing and inequitable competitive funding causes deficient separate educations from the denial of access to arts and other non-tested core academic curricula. Even students of socioeconomic advantage are increasingly vulnerable, which has created a whole new class of academically disadvantaged.
  5. Is denied access to arts as a result of scheduling conflicts.
  6. Has insufficient family economic resources to enroll in after-school and summer pay-to-play programs, or to our source private tutoring of arts, reading or math.
  7. Has weak family educational support and/or family instability regardless of socioeconomic status.
  8. Is trapped in a crowded urban school with denied access to arts and a well-balanced curriculum.
  9. Is already in a school with access to arts and a well-balanced curriculum, but is required to attend another school under "diversity assignment," without similar high standards and equal opportunities.
  10. When local property owners are unable or unwilling to vote for a supplemental arts education parcel tax.
  11. Is denied classroom or library resources for maximum learning. This includes arts utilized as tools to integrate and improve English and math skills, as well as testing scores.

Challenge High-Stakes Curricular Cancer!

↓↓↓ Download this exposé for copying and forwarding to parents, students, teachers, community leaders, politicians, media, etc. ↓↓↓

↑↑↑ Email or forward this Stop High-Stakes Curricular Cancer! exposé along with the complete "Stop High-Stakes Testing" resource package to concerned parents, students, educators, community leaders, politicians, civil-rights groups, constitutional attorneys, music/arts advocates, local or mass media, etc. (DOWNLOAD HERE) ↑↑↑

Music and Other Arts Quotes

"Children learn better with arts as part of the curriculum. They learn all their subjects better. They're more engaged. Teacher attendance goes up. The child is happier; the teacher is happier.
-Jane Alexander, former chair of National Endowment for the Arts

"Together we can and should do better for America's students."

"I write to bring to your attention the importance of arts as a core academic subject and part of a complete education for all students."

"The Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA) defines the arts as a core subject, and the arts play a significant role in children's development and learning process…The arts can help students become tenacious, team-oriented problem solvers who are confident and able to think creatively. These qualities can be especially important in improving learning among students from economically disadvantaged circumstances."

"Parents must demand and influence decision makers with grassroots advocacy."

"Most students are not having ethical access to the arts."

"Change must happen at the state and local levels."

"Educators must close the achievement gap and raise the bar with arts."
-Arne Duncan, US Secretary of Education (taken from the 2009 teleconference and letter)

"Rhythm students learn math fractions easier."
-Neurological Research, March 165, 1999

"Music lessons help students more than computer training."
-Neurological Research, February 28, 1997

"Band members get better math, science and language grades."
-ETSU study by Daryl Erick Trent, 2000

"Substance abuse lowest in music students"
-Boston Chronicle, January 11, 1998

"Music making earns 'A's' with Americans."
-Gallup Organization, March 2000

"Music students score higher on SATs."
-The College Board, compiled by MENC, 2001, 1996

"Music training helps underachievers."
-American Music Conference

"Music makes brain grow."
-Nature, April 23, 1998

Famous Quotes

"All of us do not have equal talent, but all of us should have the opportunity to develop our talent."
-John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States

"I think my life in terms of music."
-Albert Einstein

"Great teachers affect eternity"

-Henry Brooks Adams, Historian

"Give a child a fish and you feed him/her for a day (teach to the test). Teach a child to fish and feed him/her for life (teach the arts)."

Students Speak Out

"As a high school senior, I've been lucky to have the arts in my school. However, it saddens me to think that it might be gone in the near future. I've been involved with band most of my life, and it has definitely been the most rewarding experience of my life. Please keep this program in schools to ensure that many more students have the opportunity to have the most complete, and exciting, education they could possibly have."
-12th Grader

"I've been waiting from 2nd grade to play music. I'm so excited."
-5th Grader

"I think that music/arts should be introduced at around 1st or 2nd grade so children can find a way to express themselves."
-9th Grader

"Why not start students in the 3rd or even 4th grade? There used to be programs in those grades, too. If I had been forced to wait until the 6th grade to start playing a stringed instrument, I never would have chosen to play. If you start earlier, you're freer to experiment and be adventurous. But, by the time you get to the 6th grade, you're concerned about not being noticed and about fitting in. The cello is such a big part of my life now; I really cannot imagine life without it."
-6th Grader

"Band is one of the few reasons I come to school, it is also my favorite class. The music arts is like math you need to start from the beginning to understand the lessons later on. For example you read a book left to right in America reading the ending is 'noob sauce' and can not be done."
-9th Grader

"I've been taking music for 4 year and currently taking art class. I believe every student should have the opportunity to learn music & art at school. Not all students is rich enough for private lesson."
-12th Grader

"I have found a family in marching band. I have learned a lot, and I love what I do with them."
-11th Grader

"I love my music class."
-12th Grader

"I really appreciate my opportunity to learn a new instrument."
-11th Grader

"I believe music is just as important to my education as math or English, because it helps me with memorization, creativity, and even social skills."
-10th Grader

"We need music!"
-10th Grader

"I think that music and other arts are vital to build children's character. They learn that doing something different like playing an instrument or participating in a local play, will help them gain skills they cant in a classroom. The arts help us as student express ourselves in different way. We also stay out of trouble and gain responsibilities. Therefore making us more responsible I think that having a place like the band room, or a choir room or a theater to call home is worth every penny."
-12th Grader

"I think music is very important to any kids, no matter how old they are. Also, music can affect a child’s manner in a positive way. No school should cut music class. It is our students' enjoyment in school."
-12th Grader

"Education is needed for our future!!"
-12th Grader

"I enjoy music class, even if this is my first year. This opportunity is a great opportunity because there may be other students who would like to pursue with music in their future."
-12th Grader

"I believe that all children should always have music in lives and it should not be taken away from them. Music is important and it can inspire them to become the best of themselves."
-12th Grader

"To me music calms me down and lowers my stress. I really appreciate music and I hope it stays."
-11th Grader

"I never really took instruments, but I do love listening to music, & I want to learn. So I hope that we will be able to keep music and arts at school, because other than school, I do not get the chance to learn music."
-9th Grader

"I think that having the chance to freely be able to learn how to play musical instruments in school is important."
-12th Grader

"I appreciate the opportunity to be able to learn an instrument in school and I believe that it would be something I would continue in the future."
-11th Grader

"Music and Art classes keep interest in students and helps stimulate creative thinking and innovative ideas, and should be kept under any circumstance."
-11th Grader

"Please save the arts! Kids need an outlet for school, and I think arts such as music or painting is a great way to relieve stress and supports creativity."
-11th Grader

"I am very thankful to be apart of the music class or any fine arts class I could have taken. I've always wanted to further my knowledge of music and finally have the opportunity because I couldn’t afford outside classes. So thank you. YYY =) It is much appreciated!!!"
-12th Grader

"I tried to get music class Freshman year, but I couldn't. Now I have & its really fun. I love it."
-11th Grader

"Arts in general is what everybody lives for, or would want to live for, whether you are a math major or science major, art is the foundation of our sane existence. Besides, where else would I hang out if not the band room? (metaphorically and literally)."
-12th Grader

"I really agree that students should receive a musical and artistic education. Because I am student that attends high school seem and feel like doing better every time I listen and play in band. It helps me with my focus. That is also one reason why teachers sometimes play classical music in class."
-10th Grader

"Marching in the Rose Parade with the AUSD Band was a very rewarding experience for me, music is such a great part of public education."
-11th Grader

"Music has united the world and without it, there would be no cultural experiences."
-9th Grader

"The arts should be preserved so that all children are able to express their creative sides and enjoy music and other arts."
-9th Grader

"I really enjoyed all the activities that we have done over the years. They have all been truly an experience that an average person will never experience and hope that future years will experience stuff that I will never forget."
-11th Grader

"Never in my life have I ever worked so hard to perfect something no where near perfection."
-11th Grader

"Music is my inspiration. Without music, I’d be the same as the other kids. It makes me who I am today!"
-10th Grader

"Being in marching band has been an experience I will never forget. It allows me to take a break from the stresses of school work. As a result of the band program, I have been able to march in an internationally televised parade (Rose Parade 2009) and made a handful of lifelong friends. Every student should have the choice to be in a music program."
-11th Grader

"I believe that music and arts are an equal subject to any of the other subjects at school. Arts can give us a steady focus of learning and gives us a new passion."
-9th Grader

"I like band, and it would suck if it got cancelled."
-10th Grader

"Band's awesome. It totally changed my life."
-9th Grader

"I look forward to my fourth period because it gives me a chance to play an instrument that I love. And I get to play with the school and get instruction on how to play correctly."
-11th Grader

"People who have join any art related programs have had a better futures."
-10th Grader

"Hi! Thanks for supporting our school! Without you helpers we wouldn't be able to play music anymore. So thank you very much!"
-9th Grader

"It is crucial for the district to fund The Arts. The Arts can help us excel in college and in the future. Please help all students/musicians and I to have a proper funding."
-12th Grader

"As a high school senior, I've been lucky to have the arts in my school. However, it saddens me to think that it might be gone in the near future. I've been involved with the band most of my life, and it has definitely been the most rewarding experience of my life. Please keep this program in schools to ensure that many more students have the opportunity to have the most complete, and exciting education they could possibly have."
-12th Grader

"I think music theory should be introduced in 4th grade so that they can easily pick up an instrument by 8th grade."
-9th Grader

"Art encourages imagination, creativity and individuality and should be a regular contributor to a student's curriculum as early as possible."
-11th Grader

The Invisible Standardized Student

"My fondest hope is that my grandchildren will have teachers who know that the truly valuable elements of a public education cannot be measured by machine-scored tests, and that their value as human beings cannot be reduced to those test scores."
-Education Week, August 10, 2011, "Community Comment of the Day"

"We spend millions developing and administering a test, we prep kids for it, and we still hear from businesses that kids don't have the job skills because what they learned was how to take a test.
-Ed Amundsen, Special Education Teacher, Sacramento, CA

"The farther away from the children in the classroom, the more unrealistic the 'fix' ideas become. Those of us in classrooms know any reform is slow, and painstaking."
-sek1949, Comment of the Day, Education Week, September 13, 2011

When children have the opportunity and equal access to whole-child balanced education, which includes music and arts, they develop a sense of fulfillment and real pride, leading them to a life-long love of learning and successful lives. Balance not only improves test results but far-more importantly, massive accumulation of research data indicates that the arts help grow personal individuality, self expression and social skills, self esteem, discipline, independent thinking, analytical, global, collaborative, conceptual and visual thinking, memory, focus, concentration, patience, stress release and anger management, entrepreneurship, healthy competitiveness, cooperation, self control, initiative, persistence, team spirit, attention to detail, handling of pressure, alertness, conquering challenges, problem solving, hand-eye coordination, character, confidence, creativity, ingenuity, innovation, resourcefulness, imagination, enthusiasm, leadership and combining all of the above when students become complete human beings capable of leading successful and productive lives in a free society.

These are attributes and characteristics that stifling high-stakes* standardized testing does not build, but equal access to music and arts does, particularly when started from the earliest ages and continued through middle and high school. If educators make classroom-curriculum challenging but creative at the same time, education will be fun and encourage personal growth of students’ individualities, and create truly visible students for life, in all subjects and challenges in life. The opposite is true for students bombarded with teaching-to-the-test boredom and remedial / double-dosing punishment from the demands of ever-higher test results, while being deprived of balanced classroom curriculum and opportunities to develop into full individual potentials.

10 years of experience and research data continue to demonstrate that dumb-downed curriculum from high-stakes standardized testing is one of the primary causes of the decline in public K-12 American education, today. The tragedy of the misguided grand-federal experiment known as “No Child Left Behind” law, and most recently unfair “Race to the Top” federal competition, continues to marginalize, standardize and invisibilize students, especially the economically and academically disadvantaged, thereby denying them of the individuality and leadership abilities that they will need to survive and thrive ahead of the pack in the 21st century.

Johnny Thompson, on behalf of
Parents for Music and Arts (PMA)
Vision for students - voice for parents

*The term high-stakes means that children and their teachers, principals and superintendents are judged, punished and rewarded solely by Federal and state student standardized test results, as teachers are forced to "teach to the test" and "what gets tested gets taught"

Our Blind-Trust Testing Bubble

Posted by John C. Thompson on September 20, 2010  • 

Their Big-Gov Unequal and Denied-Access and the Invisible Disadvantaged: Beware of the High-Stakes Education Rule: What is tested with “high-stakes” accountability gets taught; what is not tested gets unequal or denied-access. While the K-12 student of “socio-academic advantage” [high(er) test score] gets whole-student curriculum unequal access or can outsource to learn, the “invisible” disadvantaged [low(er) test score] learns to grow up with narrow, separate and disabling denied-access education (A4).

"At first they came for my neighbor's kid, but then they came for mine."   – John Charles Thompson, 2014 (adaptation from M. Niemöller, 1946)

Parents and Students for Music and Arts is not affiliated with, or endorsed by any school district. PSMA is a combined effort of local parents and community leaders in support of whole-student education which includes music and other arts for all.

The Great Selective Testing Bubble

Posted by John C. Thompson on September 4, 2010

To: Secretary Duncan,* OCR, DOJ and c.c.
Subject: The Great Selective Testing Bubble

The selective testing of English and math along with competitive funding is unconstitutional. Whole-child ed is dead - especially for the "disadvantaged" - but working together, we can activate on a journey for fundamental reform to public education. To know more, begin by reading the attached table of contents and introduction to the Great Selective Testing Bubble. Please join us!

Exposé IV
Reference Links

*Secretary Duncan: your personal response is requested. Thank you.

John C. Thompson
Parents for Music and Arts (PMA)
Students for Music and Arts (SMA)
(626) 280-1613 (626) 280-4600 (Fax)
222 E. Garvey Ave., Monterey Park, CA 91755

c.c.: policy and law makers, advocates and activists, educators.

City of Monterey Park Resolution

Posted by John C. Thompson on February 5, 2010

MKHS Aztec Singers 2011
A resolution of the City Council of the City of Monterey Park, California, in support of independent Parents and Students for Music and Arts (PSMA) and their mission to advocate that every Alhambra Unified School District should receive a complete and well-rounded education that includes Equal Access to Music and other Arts.

Links - Arts Education Advocacy Teams

Johnny Thompson Music

Pasadena Star News Article: Group urges more arts education in Alhambra Unified School District


Welcome to Stop High-Stakes Testing and All Arts All Kids

Posted by John C. Thompson on October 1, 2009

AEF Summer Arts Academy 2011
Although federal and state governments recognize that music and other arts are core-academic subjects, they are no longer extra-curricular and optional. Parents and Students for Music and Arts (PSMA) is the of local parents, students and community leaders. We band together as a powerful arts and civil rights advocacy to restore and expand music and arts for all with equal access. Through PSMA, your voice will be heard and together we will advocate on behalf of student rights under the protection of the U.S. Constitution.

Download our arts flyer at the following links:


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