State Constitutions and Systemic Gaps in Music Education Access

By Corey Whitt

“The proliferation of music education in schools throughout the United States is an apparent success.  However, its application is not evenly spread across the country.  Students living in poverty are most often those who are left unable to enjoy its advantages.  Further, the disparities increase along racial lines.  The reality is that low-income students of color are more likely to forgo a music education than their affluent, white peers.

As demonstrated in cases leading into the twenty-first century, state courts can play a role in bridging the socio-economic divide of music education access.  Where state courts chose to define the minimum quality of education prescribed by their state constitutions, music experiences were acknowledged.  A modern, successful advocacy strategy, however, will likely deviate from litigation in favor of ballot measure proposals to secure a music education for all students given the inherent risk of establishing harmful legal precedent.  Through the patchwork of state ballot measures, the American electorate can promote meaningful music education experiences for all students—not only the wealthy, white children.”

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