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Educational Group Sings Praises of Music in Schools

By North County Times


Full article:

SHERMAN: Educational group sings praises of music in schools

Robert Richardson has a good reason —- his daughter, Kara —- to praise efforts like those of the Carlsbad Educational Foundation to keep music instruction continuing in elementary schools.

The foundation spends $256,000 yearly to provide music lessons in Carlsbad classrooms.

Kara Richardson, 35, grew up in San Clemente, and the musical instruction and free use of an instrument that she received in school there instilled a lifelong love of music, culminating in her becoming a concert violinist. She has performed with several combos, works at a music school in San Diego and organizes lessons for everyone from second graders to retired seniors, her dad said.

The Carlsbad program could do the same for its students, Robert Richardson said recently at a local presentation by the educational foundation’s executive officer, Valin Brown.

“It’s profound in what it did for her,” Richardson said of the early music education. “It’s been a source of entertainment” as well as serious enterprise, he said in a follow-up interview last week.

Brown said Carlsbad Unified School District dropped its publicly funded music instruction for elementary grades in 2003. He said parent-teacher organizations at some schools have tried to keep music instruction going, but the only weekly program for all 5,000 elementary school students is provided by the foundation.

The group was established in 1983 with a motto of being “where kids are worth a million,” but its budget actually is double that figure. The bulk of the foundation’s income, more than $1.6 million, comes from tuition and fees for its day care and summer programs.

About 600 students are enrolled in day care, for which parents pay $320 a month. Summer programs cost $120 a week.

Besides providing the music instruction in Carlsbad’s nine elementary schools, the foundation offers additional science and art activities.

Brown said the foundation spends $176,000 for hands-on science experiences, including FIRST LEGO League Robotics and the Science Olympiad for students in Carlsbad’s three middle schools and its high school.

That money also provides new computers in all five science laboratories at Carlsbad High at a cost of $73,000 and supplies at the middle schools, at a cost of $15,000.

Also, the foundation co-funds the Business Town program for every fifth grader, he said. Co-sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, it gives youngsters a chance to learn how commerce drives a community.

The group also contributes $5,000 so that all sixth graders in the district participate in a project that the Lux Art Institute of Encinitas takes to the classrooms, he said..

Registration for the foundation’s summer program, now in its third year, has already begun. Classes run June 27-July 29. The summer program offers 30 different courses for about 250 students in kindergarten through eighth grade and includes such subjects as digital photography, cooking, video-game design and film-making.

A promotional video, a first for the foundation, just has been completed. The film “puts a face to the program —- something we have not been able to do before,” Brown said.

The foundation also recently added a marketing feature involving a daily email offer. Recipients are offered a special deal on goods or services from “the Blind Squirrel” for that day, and 40 percent of the net proceeds goes to the nonprofit organization. More information is available at

Lola Sherman is a freelance writer. She can be reached at

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