For the third time in five years, the San Diego Unified School District has been recognized as one of the best communities for music education in the country.
The district was one of 376 given the honor last month by the nonprofit National Association of Music Merchants Foundation or NAMM as being a Best Community for Music Education. It earlier received the designation in 2010 and 2013.
San Diego Unified was recognized after it submitted a music education survey answering detailed questions about district funding, staffing of highly qualified teachers, commitment to standards and access to music instruction provided to students.
Karen Childress-Evans, director of visual and performing arts for city schools, said the designation celebrates the district’s many partnerships with arts organizations and community members that provide such things as field trips to performances and instruments for families that cannot afford to rent or buy their own.
The district provides instrumental music instruction for students in all of its 119 elementary schools and most of its middle and high schools. Its course offerings include band, orchestra, choir, guitar, jazz ensembles, music theory, guitar, piano and musical theater.
The foundation’s 15-year-old program seeks to recognize the work of teachers, administrators and community partners to assure that music education is part of a district’s core curriculum. Last year, more than 2,000 schools and districts in the U.S. submitted NAMM surveys.
“Many of the schools that have gotten (the designation) have been working to get it for a couple of years,” said Mary Luehrsen, executive director of the NAMM Foundation. “I think the word is out that it can be meaningful to a school district.”