Current and soon to be departing Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, who has singularly contributed to the stress on the public education system… first as Senior Advisory to the President and more recently as Secretary… answered some questions of students. One specifically addressed music and arts education:

Why do you think art and music programs are the first to be cut during a budget crisis when many believe that these are important learning experiences that clearly affect other disciplines?
Well, again, these are not decisions made at the federal level. But I reject the assumption that we cannot teach kids to read and do math on grade level and have art and music.
A lot of administrative bureaucracy exists in our system. What I often see is that we make budget cuts at the expense of kids as opposed to the expense of adults. At the same time as programs are being cut, we see salaries rise and benefits increase. This is within the prerogative of the local school boards, but I think we have to start holding ourselves accountable for a system that serves kids at least as much as it does the teachers and administrators.

The whole article is worth reading as she breathlessly claims credit for imporvements in education and pushes all the blame to local communities around whose neck this albatros of federal education policy now rest.
Thanks Margaret… and don't let the door hit you on the way out!
Interviews: Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings from our Teen Magazine