Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee says musical instruments can be "weapons of mass instruction" and schools should not be allowed to cut music and art education classes.
Back in 1999, when Huckabee was governor of Arkansas, he backed a phased-in plan which ultimate has forced every public school in Arkansas to offer music and art education classes, taught by a trained instructor.
According to Huckabee, it is "stupid" and "pure nonsense" for schools to cut music and art classes because they stimulate a child’s creativity. "The child today who is getting an education based solely on the transfer of information from one brain to the next without stimulating the processor, the operating system, the creative part of that child’s brain, is a child who is getting left behind," Huckabee says.
Huckabee cites statistics which show students who’re involved in music do four-times better than average on college entrance exams and are four times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem. He argues that’s why music education is so important.
"Today in America — and many of you see it in your own schools — kids with their heads on their desks, taking a good long nap at the expense of the taxpayers. How many billions of dollars do we spend in America every year so kids can take a nap in class — not because they’re dumb, not because they’re incapable of learning, but because they’re bored to tears?" Huckabee asks. "As a result, every 60 seconds in this country two kids drop out of school."
Huckabee argues the need for music education should be part of the national debate, and he suggests that it Americans spent more time with their "hands wrapped around a music instrument" they’d spend less time with their hands "around something destructive."
"May I suggest that we do something in this country? And it would be that we take up a most important weapon. I would call these the weapons of mass instruction. I can think of nothing that maybe would eliminate poverty and disease and perhaps bring out the creative genius in a whole generation of kids so that they could do something what is unthinkable and unknowable today," Huckabee says. "…Give them the capacity to put something in their hands that will relate to their head and turn their heart around and give them those weapons of mass instruction so that this generation will come up with the answers that our generation has failed to come up with."
When Huckabee was 11 years old, his parents bought him an electric guitar for Christmas and he says it helped him learn about discipline because it required practice, and it helped him get over his shyness. "Don’t get me wrong. I love sports — football and basketball and baseball and track. All those things are wonderful, but a guy my age isn’t playing tackle football anymore. If he does, he only plays it once," Huckabee says. "…I’m having more fun playing music at age 51 than I ever did as a teenager."
Huckabee has his own band, called "Capitol Offense," which he says gets great gigs like opening for Willie Nelson because he’s a politician, not because of the band’s talent.
Huckabee discussed music education during a mid-day speech at the Iowa Bandmasters Association convention in Des Moines.