Irvine ranks among America’s best for music education

For the eighth straight year, Irvine Unified School District has been named one of the nation’s Best Communities for Music Education by the NAMM Foundation.

It’s a distinction given to only 4% of school districts.

“This honor is indicative of IUSD’s unwavering commitment to the arts and music education,” said Brad Van Patten, IUSD director of arts education. “Despite being one of the lowest-funded school districts in the nation, the arts have flourished for each child in IUSD schools under the Board of Education’s visionary leadership and the belief that the arts play an essential role in children’s education.”

Many school districts have drastically cut arts education over the last two decades. Still, Irvine’s program has flourished, thanks to community support like that of Irvine Company’s Excellence in Education Enrichment Fund.

“Preparing students for this rapidly evolving world is what we are trying to accomplish,” Irvine Unified School District Superintendent Terry Walker says.

The 20-year program has filled the funding gap in providing art, music and science teachers to every fourth through sixth grader in IUSD. It has helped provide nearly 100,000 elementary students with classes usually available only to secondary students.

As a result, IUSD students outperform their peers in California – and the nation – in many of these subjects.

The Best Communities for Music Education must demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. They are chosen based on criteria such as funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, and support for the music programs.

Research suggests music education not only develops children’s artistic skills but also provides cognitive and social benefits, such as improvements in speaking and reading.