You have probably been reading how the South Orange – Maplewood school district ranks highest on music education. Well its about time a school ranking measured something other than test scores to evaluate a district’s success.
I have used my blog platform in the past to discuss the inequities of school rankings by third parties such as magazines and web based organizations. (view here). These rankings or “Best Of” lists basically just use test scores and don’t measure any intangibles like diversity. Test scores are important, but a quality education needs to be measured by more than a student body’s ability at test taking. For my kids, I wanted an education that went beyond what they learned in the classroom. Equally, or more important to me is learning to navigate with their social groups that were both racially and socio-economically diverse. I felt this would prove to be far more important in their adult years when they have to navigate the real world. That’s why we chose to live in a community like South Orange that has a very diverse population.
Unfortunately, the diversity of South Orange’s student body consistently works against the district when it comes to the ranking of the town’s school system by sub par, often salacious magazine articles titled “NJ Best Schools.” Well, now something equally important has finally been given attention by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAAM).
The NAAM Foundation celebrates and promotes the intrinsic value of music education. They support active participation in music making across a person’s lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service. They have an annual “Best Community for Music Education” list (see full list here) of schools across the country. It is comprised of multiple points to evaluate and rank schools on their music programs. It is no surprise that on this scale the South Orange – Maplewood School District gets the highest ranking. After all, music is a great equalizer. You don’t have to be rich or a certain color to be a good musician.
Why the South Orange-Maplewood School District Ranks Highest on Music Education
But more importantly, I salute the Board of Education and the generous parents in the community for their continual commitment to supporting the music programs throughout the South Orange – Maplewood school district. Many performing artists, musicians and singers choose to make South Orange and Maplewood their home (read more about it here). In my opinion, these vital community members, in turn, vocally and financially support the emphasis on music education for their children. Congratulation South Orange -Maplewood school district — well done!