Collins, fellow senators push to reverse rejections of education grant applications over minor errors

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A group of U.S. senators, led by Susan Collins and joined by Angus King, is pushing the federal Department of Education to reconsider grant applications affecting thousands of potential first generation college students around the country, including at the University of Maine at Presque Isle.

Earlier this month, UMPI learned that two applications for nearly $624,000 in grant funding to serve 800 students through the Upward Bound program over five years were rejected because of line-spacing errors on two of the 65 pages in each application. U.S. Department of Education rules require that Upward Bound applications be double spaced, but two pages contained infographics that had only 1.5 spaces between lines.

Similar formatting errors caused rejections of grant applications at at least four dozen colleges and universities in 17 states, and school officials were not given an opportunity to correct the mistakes. UMPI was the only school in Maine.

On Friday, Sens. Collins and Jon Tester, D-Montana, sent a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos rebuking the department for its actions. Twenty-three other senators, including King, co-signed it.

“The decision to exclude applications from consideration due to minor, non-substantive concerns is a clear example of the harm that results from inflexible, bureaucratic procedures,” Collins and Tester wrote. “Many applicants that were rejected have served generations of first-time, low-income students successfully for decades.”

The senators pointed out that 61,747 students nationwide relied last year on Upward Bound to succeed in high school and prepare for college. They also stressed that the Federal Register, which invites grant writers to seek new awards, includes “arbitrary formatting criteria not mandated by Congress.”

“The Department of Education should be supporting successful partnerships, not constructing bureaucratic roadblocks while administering Upward Bound and other” student services programs, the senators wrote.

They asked the secretary to reverse the rejections and reconsider the applications.

Darylen Cote, director of TRiO College Access Services at UMPI, said Friday that she was overwhelmed by the support from Collins and the entire Maine congressional delegation. Collins, King and Reps. Bruce Poliquin and Chellie Pingree had sent their own joint letter to DeVos earlier this month, also expressing their support for reconsideration of the UMPI applications.

Cote said she felt that Collins made a “really great case for the university.”

“Collins made several good points in her letter, including the fact that the guidelines were not in the Federal Register and all of the rules were made up by the Department of Education,” said Cote. “I am hoping common sense prevails, because they are not seeing the unintended consequences of what something like this could do.”

She also said that since last Friday, more than 1,700 UMPI alumni, former Upward Bound students and their parents have flooded Devos’ office with letters in support of the Upward Bound program.

“That really touches my heart,” she said.

 

GAO Says Education Dept. Should Up Its Oversight of Federal After-school Program

As after-school programs across the country fear loss of federal funds, a new report from the Government Accountability Office could muddy the waters.

The GAO released a report Wednesday saying the Department of Education needs to improve its oversight of the program by updating the way it measures program outcomes.

Supporters of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which provides after-school and summer enrichment for 1.6 million children across the nation, are not surprised.

“We don’t disagree with the recommendations,” said Jodi Grant, executive director of the Afterschool Alliance, an after-school advocacy group. “Some were already addressed in the new Every Student Succeeds Act.”

“The [GAO] report makes it pretty clear that [21st Century] programs are making a real difference,” Grant said. It cites research showing that participation in after-school programs improves student behavior and school attendance, she said. These are “key building blocks of long-term student success,” she said.

However, the report could have looked at additional research that has already been done, Grant said.

The 21st Century program’s three big objectives are to show student improvement in educational, behavioral and social areas. But the Department of Education only measures educational outcomes and some behavior outcomes, the GAO report said.

For example, its academic measures include math, reading scores and state test scores. Its behavioral measures are homework completion, class participation and teacher-reported classroom behavior. The GAO said the Education Department should also be measuring school attendance and disciplinary incidents, as well as social and emotional outcomes for kids.

Ellie Mitchell is executive director of Maryland Out of School Time, a network for after-school providers in the state.

“We don’t disagree that the DOE hasn’t done the job it needs,” Mitchell said. “It takes lots of research dollars to do proper research, and the funding isn’t there to do everything.”

A great deal of research outside the Department of Education has been done on after-school programs “proving how effective these programs are,” she said.

The requirements of the federal law and the grants themselves are strict, so programs involved are constantly evaluating what works and what doesn’t, Mitchell said.

The GAO report said the department needs to better manage and use its data so it can make good decisions about the program. It should provide guidance to states on program evaluation, it said.

The Department of Education said it has not updated its performance measures because federal authorization for the 21st Century program lapsed from 2008 until 2016, according to the report. The program was reauthorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act last year.

The report could be seen as giving ammunition to opponents of the program or it could be seen as pushing the Education Department to take action.

Mitchell takes the latter view.

“So even if the Education Department isn’t doing everything, it’s preposterous to say that 21st Century Learning hasn’t made a tremendous improvement to the lives of kids and their families,” she said. 

“You don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are things you don’t need research to tell you. It’s just common sense that kids in safe, caring environments, being fed maybe their only good meal of the day, are going to have better outcomes,” she said.

John Holland contributed to this article.

Celebrating Northern Vermont University

“Two unique histories, one shared future.”

That’s the phrase often used to describe the soon-to-be Northern Vermont University (NVU) — a unification of Johnson State and Lyndon State Colleges celebrated at the Vermont Statehouse last week.

“State colleges are critical to the future of Vermont,” said Jeb Spaulding, chancellor of the Vermont State College System. “We enroll more Vermonters than any other college in the state, and take pride in our range of students. An awful lot of successful people wouldn’t have gone to college without the VSC.”

The unification of Johnson and Lyndon is a manifestation of the state colleges board of trustees’ commitment to high quality, affordable college, Spaulding said. It ensures that both campuses remain viable for the long run.

Although the Legislature once funded the state college system at 80 percent, they are now only funded about 15 percent. The Senate just passed a budget that includes $4 million for Vermont State Colleges.

“NVU will contribute to the economic well being of Vermont,” said Dr. Elaine Collins, president of Johnson State, and the first president of Northern Vermont University. “Bachelor’s degree holders contribute more to the economy. Highly educated households with graduate degrees spend two times as much on local goods and services than those with only high school diplomas.”

Promoting access to high-quality education contributes to the health and welfare of the region.

With the merger of Johnson and Lyndon comes new innovative degree programs to be shared between both campuses.

Lyndon’s climate change science degree is the only one of its kind in the Northeast. It is designed to address the challenges of climate change, empowering students with the skills and knowledge to make a difference. The climate change program is housed within Lyndon’s nationally renowned atmospheric sciences department.

The business departments on both campuses will offer joint classes through telecommunication.

“With combined enrollment, we can offer more classes to our students,” said Nolan Atkins, interim president of Lyndon State and first provost for Northern Vermont University.

In addition to the unification of Lyndon and Johnson State, when Burlington College shut down last year, Johnson took on a number of its students, and with them came a new major, woodworking and fine furniture design.

Johnson allowed the Burlington College students in that major to continue their work, and in a collaboration with Vermont Woodworking School in Fairfax, will open the major up to other students in the fall on an ongoing basis.

The woodworking degree track is unique in Vermont and one of only a few in the nation.

The partnership will allow students to pursue a bachelor of fine arts degree by taking general education and foundational art classes on the Johnson campus while learning fundamental and advanced woodworking skills and techniques in the 15,000-square-foot barn that houses Vermont Woodworking School.

“This summer we will initiate a comprehensive review of courses on each campus,” Atkins said.

The unification of the Johnson State and Lyndon State campuses will “ensure long-term vibrancy and vitality of the Vermont State College Systems, and ensure that we can compete strongly in the tough world out there,” Spaulding said.

A Perspective on education: Assuring all students receive the education they deserve



SELPA stands for Special Education Local Plan Area, and it is the organization aligned with the Mendocino County Office of Education and all local school districts to assure that children with special needs receive the educations they deserve. Our goal is to provide a full range of inclusive programs to children with disabilities in our county.

Decades ago, it was assumed that people with disabilities could not be productive members of society. From a young age, they were either kept home from school or sent to facilities where their schooling was often woefully inadequate. Even students who were perfectly capable of attending general education classes were not permitted to do so.

Thankfully, things have changed. This change is good for students with special needs and for our society as a whole. Studies show that students who attend class with those who have disabilities often learn to be more tolerant and empathetic. And long-held beliefs about what students with special needs could achieve have changed as those students continue to surpass expectations.

Part of the reason students with special needs were not included in general education classrooms is because scientific studies had not yet revealed the nature of certain limitations. For example, those with physical impairments were assumed to have intellectual impairments, too. We now know the two often have no connection whatsoever.

In fact, a local Mendocino County student with physical impairments attended Stanford University and earned a degree in engineering. He now develops adaptive technology for others with motor handicaps to help provide enriched opportunities for meaningful work and interactions with people in the community. Through inclusion in general education classes, combined with special education services, this young man was able to achieve a level of success that many students only dream of. This is a great illustration of SELPA at work: helping each student reach his or her unique potential.

Our SELPA region encompasses all of Mendocino County, which has three large school districts and several small ones. Ukiah Unified, Willits Unified and Fort Bragg Unified have the most students and therefore more varied resources to meet the needs of students with disabilities. These big districts are committed to providing some regionalized support, which helps our smaller districts that struggle to offer as broad a range of programs and therapies to students.

Sometimes the nature of an impairment requires special schooling. When students are medically fragile or severely impacted by a disability, being in a traditional classroom doesn’t always work well. At times students may be better served by programs and services tailored to meet their specific needs. The goal is always to provide support in what is termed the “Least Restrictive Environment.” This means that we offer a continuum of supports to provide the maximum opportunity for integration with typical peers.

With an Individualized Education Program (IEP), most students with special needs can manage in general education classrooms. For those who cannot, the IEP Team crafts specialized goals and services for the child, based on their assessed needs. Schools collaborate with community organizations such as the Redwood Coast Regional Center and counseling providers so families receive additional support to help their student be successful.

SELPA strives to identify and serve children with special needs early through the Early Start Program. For these infants and toddlers, our team works in concert with families, day care providers, agencies such as First 5 Mendocino, and local pediatricians to help children overcome minor issues like speech impediments, for example, and to make sure children with long-term challenges get support as soon as possible. SELPA also helps young adults transition into employment and independent living at whatever level of autonomy is appropriate.

SELPA’s goal is to assure that education professionals and student families understand and adhere to state and federal laws governing special needs. SELPA employees meet this goal through education, program oversight, and when necessary, dispute resolution.

If you’re considering a career working with children who have special needs, I fully encourage you to pursue it. I can think of few careers that bring as much satisfaction.

Barbara Bloom is the SELPA Executive Director

9 Ways Betsy DeVos and Donald Trump Failed the 100-Day Test

In one of his less-heralded campaign promises, Donald Trump vowed to work with Congress to introduce something called the School Choice and Education Opportunity Act in his first 100 days in office. The expansive piece of legislation would send taxpayer money to private and religious schools, get rid of Common Core standards, expand vocational education, and make college more affordable.

So far, a bill has failed to materialize. Instead, the beginning of the Betsy DeVos era has been marked by decisions that could hurt low-income college students and students from marginalized communities, strip rules on accountability for states, and slash the Department of Education’s budget. And Wednesday, Trump signed an executive order directing an Education Department task force to evaluate regulations from previous administrations for federal overreach—even as the administration devises a way to direct public dollars toward funding private schools.

Here’s a look at what Trump and DeVos have tackled in their first 100 days.

Nixed transgender bathroom protections.

On February 22, the White House reversed an Obama-era directive allowing transgender students to use bathrooms that aligned with their gender identity. While the Obama administration determined last May that stopping transgender students from doing so amounted to discrimination and violated Title IX, the Trump administration’s position leaves the decision to accommodate students to states and school boards.

The move served as one of the first tests for DeVos, who had been recently become education secretary after a contentious confirmation process. Despite her initial opposition, DeVos eventually agreed to side with the president and Attorney General Jeff Sessions in signing off on the directive, the New York Times reported at the time. Following the White House’s decision, 11 states that had challenged the Obama administration’s stance in court dropped their lawsuit.

Alienated HBCUs.

Black History Month wasn’t so good for the White House. After a listening session with leaders from historically black colleges and universities, DeVos issued a controversial statement that referred to HBCUs as the “real pioneers when it comes to school choice,” despite the fact that those institutions arose because black Americans were excluded from traditionally white universities thanks to state-sanctioned segregation. DeVos corrected herself at a HBCU luncheon the following day amid a flurry of criticism. “Bucking [the] status quo, and providing an alternative option to students denied the right to attend a quality school, is the legacy of HBCUs,” DeVos told leaders.

And, despite insisting that his support for historically black colleges and universities would far surpass that of his predecessors, Trump signed an HBCU-related executive order on February 28 that didn’t stray from the norm. The directive moved a White House initiative on HBCUs to the president’s executive office and stated the initiative should work with the private sector to strengthen historically black colleges and universities. But the order didn’t include a commitment to boost federal funding—a request HBCU leaders are still hoping for.

Set aside big money for school choice…

In his first address to Congress in February, Trump called for a bill to fund “school choice for disadvantaged youth.” On March 16, the administration requested $1.4 billion more for expanding charter schools and vouchers for private schools in its proposed 2017-18 budget. That included a $168 million increase for charters, $250 million for a private school choice program, and a $1 billion increase for Title I funding, which goes toward funding school districts with high percentages of poor children. All told, the administration’s investment would go toward adopting a system that allows money to follow students to the school of their choice, a politically charged policy known as portability.

…on top of a 13 percent budget cut.

Under the proposed budget, the Education Department would face $9.2 billion in cuts and would eliminate the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants, which supports teacher training; the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which provides afterschool and summer programs to kids; and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, which helps low-income college students pay for school. It would also reduce funding for federal work-study and the Pell Grant program, which provides financial support for low-income college students, by $3.9 billion. 

Withdrew protections for student debt default.

On March 17, the Education Department tossed out another Obama-era directive that had forbid debt collectors from charging fees for up to 16 percent of the principal and accrued interest owed on overdue student loans. The measure was meant to protect students in default of federal loans participating in the Federal Family Education Loan Program.

Stripped accountability regulations under Every Student Succeeds Act.

Late last November, the Obama administration finalized rules on how states should evaluate schools when devising their accountability plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The 2015 law, which replaced No Child Left Behind, shifted more authority over testing and accountability to states and school districts and restricted the education secretary’s power to dictate the standards adopted by states.

Trump signed a bill to scrap the accountability rules on March 27, less than a month before the deadline for states to submit their ESSA plans. Critics argued that the changes would cause confusion over whether the state plans would comply with ESSA.

Overturned rules on teacher preparation programs.

On March 28, Trump signed a separate bill eliminating a more controversial Obama-era rule that required states to rate and evaluate the effectiveness of training programs for elementary- and secondary-school teachers. The rule, put in place late last year, drew opposition from colleges, teachers’ unions, and lawmakers who saw the guidance as federal overreach   

Ended a program promoting diversity.

On March 29, the Education Department discontinued a $12 million grant program meant to help school districts make plans for boosting socioeconomic diversity in schools. The grant program, announced by former Education Secretary John B. King Jr. late last year, was seen by advocates as a symbol of the Obama administration’s commitment to diversity in schools. In an interview with the Washington Post, former Education Department official Tonya Clay House called the move a “slap in the face.” 

Rescinded protections for student loan borrowers.

On April 11, DeVos revoked Obama-era policy guidances meant to bolster consumer protections for student loan borrowers and deter servicer misconduct.

The previous memos required the Education Department’s Federal Student Aid office, which handles $1.1 trillion in student loan debt, to establish financial incentives for loan serving companies to assist people at risk of defaulting on loans and devise contracts that could punish companies that provide inadequate services. DeVos argued that the rollout process was riddled with shortcomings and that the department should find a way to provide high-quality service and increase accountability while “also limiting the cost to taxpayers.”

The Department of Education is in the middle of negotiating new debt collection contracts, which are set to expire in 2019. Earlier this year, the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and attorneys general in Illinois and Washington sued Navient, the nation’s biggest student loan servicer, for allegedly mishandling loan payments and “systematically and illegally failing borrowers at every stage of repayment.”

Nearly two dozen state attorneys general criticized DeVos this week and called for her to reconsider the department’s position. “The Department’s decision to roll back essential protections,” the coalition of attorneys general note in the letter, “imperils millions of student loan borrowers and families.”

Special Education Registration, General Education Lottery Open for Waterford Students

WATERFORD, CT – The Waterford Public Schools’ preschool program is accepting registration packets from special education students and lottery entrance forms for general education students for the 2017-2018 school year.

Parents/guardians of special education students are requested to fill out the preschool registration paperwork and return to the Waterford Board of Education office at 15 Rope Ferry Road by May 19 if possible.

Preschool registration information can be found online or by calling 860-444-5852. (To sign up for Waterford breaking news alerts and more, click here.)

There will also be a limited number of spots for general education students in the preschool program. Families interested in being placed in the lottery are asked to fill out the required lottery entrance form.

Please fill out the form found online and return it to the Waterford Board of Education by Friday, May 19. Only families with completed entrance forms will be included in the lottery.

Families of general education students will be notified by June 1 if they have a slot next year in the preschool program.

Image via Shutterstock.

Melson hopes to secure grant for forest, education

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BASD Special Education Liaison presented with Annie Sullivan Award



The Boyertown Area School District has announced that Barbara VanBuskirk, special education liaison and 20-year employee with the District, was presented with the 2017 Annie Sullivan Award during a ceremony at the Berks County Intermediate Unit.

The award is given annually to an individual who has worked to encourage the understanding and promotion of students with disabilities in his or her school or community. The award is named after Annie Sullivan, the renowned teacher of Helen Keller. VanBuskirk was nominated by Marybeth Torchia and Kalyn Bartman, Secondary and Elementary Directors of Special Education.

In their nomination form, Torchia and Bartman wrote, “In working with Mrs. VanBuskirk we can honestly say that we have never worked with someone with as much passion, knowledge, and true understanding of students with disabilities. With each meeting one of us attends with her, we find her to be one of the most valuable assets for our District, its students, and the families for whom she works.”

VanBuskirk has worked in special education for more than 30 years. She began her career in 1975 as a special education teacher in Loudon County, Virginia, and for the past 20 years she has worked in the Boyertown Area School District. As the Transition Coordinator and Special Education Liaison for secondary students and schools, she works with students in grades 7 through 12, as well as students age 18 through 21. Prior to her current position, she worked as a life-skills aide, learning-support teacher, and secondary life-skills teacher.

As a life-skills teacher, VanBuskirk led the way for community-based learning and job skills within the Boyertown Area School District. She advocated for her students to participate with the general education students to attend dances, go to prom, and participate in the senior class trip.

As the Transition Coordinator and Special Education Liaison, she advocates for her students and works collaboratively with families to develop plans for their children as they prepare for life after high school. While transition responsibilities alone are a full-time responsibility, she also serves as a special education liaison, where she is responsible for assisting students who are struggling in their current programs and finding programs outside of the District that can meet their needs and ensuring that supports are in place to guarantee that they become Boyertown Area Senior High graduates.

“Mrs. VanBuskirk is a genuine advocate for students with special needs. Her dedication and caring attitude toward not only the students but their families as well has always been apparent,” Helen Conroy, Emotional Support Teacher at Boyertown Junior High East, wrote in support of Mrs. VanBuskirk’s nomination. “She has a gift for seeing the strengths and needs of each student and has worked tirelessly to ensure they get all of the services that will help them to be successful members of our community.”

“Mrs. VanBuskirk is a shining example of a selfless educator,” comments Dr. Richard Faidley, Boyertown Area School District Superintendent. “She is respected by her peers, loved by the students she advocates on behalf of, and valued by the parents and the community. I admire the way she works with each student in such a caring and compassionate manner, every day, and I congratulate her on this honor.”

Rutgers students advocate on Capitol Hill for financial aid

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As Congress weighs budget proposals that would significantly cut student aid and other discretionary spending, 15 students from Rutgers in Newark, New Brunswick and Camden urged federal legislators to maintain the current level of student aid funding.

The students traveled on Tuesday to Washington, where they headed to all 14 New Jersey congressional delegation offices to put a human face to the need for continued funding of federal aid programs.

Prosper Delle, at Rutgers University-Newark sophomore, shared with U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J. 11th District), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, that without the Pell Grants and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants he receives, he would have to take on more debt to earn his degree.

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“These grants help make it possible for me to go to college,” said Delle, a public administration major who immigrated to the United States from Ghana.

Rutgers students benefit from a variety of federal aid programs totaling $400 million, including Pell Grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Federal Work-Study, and Perkins Loans and Direct Loans.

More than 17,000 students — one-third of Rutgers undergraduates — receive Pell Grants, which provide $75 million toward their educational costs.

Joe Clark, a sophomore communication major at Rutgers-New Brunswick, stressed that the students are not asking for more funding, but to maintain current levels. He asked a receptive U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) that he and other legislators support the appropriated base of $4,860 for the Pell Grant, which would allow the scheduled increase in the maximum award to $5,935 in fiscal year 2018.

The students also encouraged representatives to restore year-round Pell Grants to give students the opportunity to graduate sooner by taking courses in summer and winter sessions.

While getting to college is key, being able to afford everyday expenses often makes the difference for whether students stay and complete their degrees, said Ini Ross, a junior social work major at Rutgers-New Brunswick, noting that work-study grants help fill that financial need for 3,000 Rutgers students.

“Work-study is a lifeline,” Ross said, adding that students gain valuable work and community experience through the program. “If it weren’t for the Federal Work-Study program, many students wouldn’t be able to maintain their academic schedules. Work-study allows students to not have to choose between textbooks and other essentials.”

The students advocated for Congress to maintain funding of $990 million for work-study grants — which average $1,600 to 675,000 U.S. students — in fiscal year 2018.

School of Music restricts non-majors




School of Music restricts non-major

The Jazz Combo Fest put on by the School of Music took place at the House Cafe Tuesday night.


Sharjeel Siddique | Northern Star

The Northern Star Editorial Board believes all students should have the opportunity to enroll in any classes that are possible given their credentials and majors. Specifically, the Editorial Board agrees the School of Music does not allow students to explore its classes like other NIU colleges and schools.

Freshman psychology major Sean Thompson said he feels the School of Music is limiting his ability to learn more about music, which he is passionate about. He said he is particularly frustrated with his inability to enroll in a music theory class simply because he is not a music major.

“If you’re asking me if I think they should just restrict it to people who are getting a music degree, I’d say no,” Thompson said. “Music is one of those things that interests a lot of people, and I think [the School of Music would] get a high turnout. It’s just so limiting to have them say [that] I can’t take even a beginning music theory class, especially when music is something that I’m very interested in.”

Lynn Slader, admissions coordinator for the School of Music, said program officials do the best they can with their budget and faculty. The sizes of music classes vary, but it is not uncommon for a music class to hold just 15 students, which can be expanded to allow interested non-majors to enroll.

The School of Music offers ensembles for those who play instruments with only some being audition-based. Slader said admission into the Steel Band does not require any experience at all. Despite this, the School of Music will only be offering three general education classes in contrast to the 10 general education classes offered by the School of Art. The Editorial Board believes this limits students who are interested in learning more about music, as there are ample options for other electives but not for the School of Music.

“We try to give as much as we can and open as many classes as we can for non-music majors,” Slader said. “But we also know that they’re not here to major in music.”

Slader said she doesn’t believe the classes would be popular among students and speculated that one in 1,000 students who aren’t music majors would be interested in taking a class like music theory. Thompson said he disagrees with this statement.

Junior mathematics major Kevin McNeely also disagreed and said he would enroll in a music theory class if he could.

McNeely said he believes the demand is there but the opportunity is not, and he knows several students that would be interested in taking a music course such as music theory if given the opportunity.

It seems as though there is a disconnect between the School of Music and students interested in music, as many agree they are limited when it comes to music classes they can enroll in.

“I know a lot of people who aren’t music majors who would like to take these classes because, for some people, even if it’s not their major, they still want to take a class and learn more about music,” McNeely said. “You can’t really know if the demand is there unless you do something to try it.”

Interested non-majors are not demanding that all music classes be open to everyone, and neither is the Editorial Board. Instead, the Editorial Board thinks the School of Music should provide more opportunities for students interested in this path of study, just as other programs offer several general education options for other majors.

Other higher education institutions such as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for example, offer a music minor and more than 28 music courses for non-majors, excluding all of the ensembles that the school also offers, according to their course catalog website. Some of these courses require a fee for non-majors, but they are open to all, and some are designated specifically for non-music majors, such as the Rudiments of Music Theory course.

To provide students with more variety, the Editorial Board believes the program officials for the School of Music should make an effort to understand the student body’s desires. Implementing a charge for non-majors would provide them the opportunity while also eliminating those who are not serious about enrolling in music classes and could be a good way to test interest.

“I took music classes when I was younger, and I would like to continue that because music is important to me,” said sophomore accountancy major Glaisha Segura. “NIU does have a good music program, but I think they should try something new and be more open to letting other people in. I know [Illinois State University] is bigger than us, but we could at least make an effort [because] I don’t think it’s fair to assume people wouldn’t want to take these classes since they’ve never had it available, so they can’t really say that.”