What are the factors affecting minority students participation in music education programs? This question is crucial because there was never a focus on ethnicity in my 20 years of experience as a music educator. There is a trend in the participation levels, in urban school music programs, of predominantly minority schools compared to those music programs which are majority Caucasian. There is a significant decline in student participation, in minority high school music programs. Based on research, there are key factors causing this decline. In an attempt to reveal those factors affecting the participation of minority students in urban school music programs, the following factors are of interest; socio-economic status, family background, teacher effectiveness, and equal access to fine arts programs.
Socio-economic status can be a factor affecting the participation of minority students in urban public school music programs. Chappell and Costa-Gioma (2007) conducted a study of the fifth largest school district located in central Texas. Their study revealed the effects of socio-economic status (SES) on minority student’s participation in music programs. In describing the term, lower socio-economic status, this indicates students profiled by the State of Texas as economically disadvantaged. At the time of the study, the school district served about 80,000 students, and the estimated minority student population was almost 71%, with 53% identified as economically disadvantaged. The band directors participating in the study completed a questionnaire pertaining to characteristics of their middle and high school band programs. The completed questionnaires exposed information about students taking private music lessons, band financial resources, fees, and band budgets. Although all band directors did not participate in completing the questionnaire, placement of participating band directors’ schools resulted in categorization of three groups. The categorization of these schools into three groups resulted from the number of economically disadvantaged students’ information obtained from the Free and Reduced Lunch applications for each school. The grouping resulted in categorizing economic status and labeling of the economic status of each participating school. Moreover, the information gathered on the participating director’s schools provided an in-depth view of the socio-economic status differences of schools within the same school district. The disaggregated data gathered from the completed questionnaires, and the economic status groupings provided information revealing the effects of socio-economic status on participation in public school music programs. For instance, the number of students taking private music lessons was higher in schools with a student population labeled as a high economic status school. The number of students taking private music lessons was lower in schools with a student population labeled as a low economic status school. The information gathered from the participating band director’s completed questionnaires included disaggregated data, revealing amounts of collected band fees and fundraiser earnings per band student for each school’s economic status level. The collection of band fees supports band student’s active participation and payment for items such as; music instrument rental, band uniforms, trip cost, and participation. The schools designated as low economic status had band programs fees averaging $80.00 per band students, and fundraiser earnings of $20.00 per band student. These low economic status schools’ band programs, in this urban school district, suffered from a lack of financial support. The study conducted by Chappell and Costa-Giomi (2007) indicated the impact of this factor on participation of minority students in band programs from this disaggregated data. On the other hand, schools described as medium economic status had band programs that received more external fundraisers such as;...
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