Discourse and Early Childhood Music Access in NYC Charter Schools


  • Andrew Aprile CUNY


music education, charter schools, early childhood education, equity, NYC, discourse analysis


Over the past two decades, charter schools have become a hallmark of education reform in the U.S. While much research has sought to compare the effectiveness of charter schools and traditional public schools in terms of standardized assessments, scant attention has been paid to the role of arts and music in charter schools, and little has been done to distinguish the distinct strands of the charter school movement. Given what we know about the importance of early childhood music education and the growth of charter schools, the purpose of this research was twofold: to develop a typology of New York City charter schools serving K-3, and to assess whether and how charter school type related to the presence of music instruction. The typology was refined by the researcher through discourse analysis of mission statements, which showed a tendency towards isomorphism, whereby the majority of NYC charter schools coalesced around constructions of character, community, and culture that asserted strict behavioral expectations and circumscribed notions of curriculum. The incidence of early childhood music programming correlated with charter school type. Charter schools that focused exclusively on core curriculum and character education in their missions were significantly less likely to provide K-3 music. 

Author Biography

Andrew Aprile, CUNY

Andrew Aprile holds a Ph.D in Urban Education from the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center. His research interests include social foundations, multicultural music education (with a focus on percussion and Afro-Diasporic music), musical cognition and development, equity in arts education, sociocultural theory, and oral traditions in formal classroom contexts. These interests inform his approach as an early childhood music educator and CUNY adjunct professor. He teaches young children music at various schools in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and has been teaching college and graduate courses in education and world music for the past seven years. He has contributed chapters to Young Children and the Arts: Nurturing Imagination and Creativity, and We Shall Overcome: Essays on a Great American Song


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