Music Education in Prince George's County, Maryland, From 1950 to 1992: An Oral History Account of Three Prominent Music Educators and Their Times

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Moore, Judy Williams
McCarthy, Marie
This dissertation documents the professional lives of three prominent music educators in Prince George's County, MarylandLeRoy Battle, Maurice Allison, and Dorothy Pickardwhose careers from 1950 to 1992 spanned the period of school desegregation and its aftermath. The professional lives of Battle, Allison, and Pickard, their philosophies of teaching, and the instructional strategies they used in building music programs of distinction are examined employing methods of oral history. The interviews of twenty-three other Prince George's County professionals, including a county executive, a superintendent, county teachers, and county administrators, combine with testimony of the three music educators in creating the fabric of this historical dissertation. Set in Prince George's County, scene of dramatic societal change between 1950 and 1992, county educational, cultural, societal, and political processes are explored to gain understanding of the lives and times of Battle, Allison, and Pickard. Although the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education ruling ended the era of "separate-but-equal" schooling in the United States, it was not until December 29, 1972, that a countywide system of busing of students was ordered in Prince George's County to enforce racial balance in schools. Busing altered the racial distribution in county schools and was thought by many to have precipitated "white flight" of Prince George's residents to surrounding jurisdictions. Remaining county residents voted to limit taxes for county services, creating a financial burden for the schools, the police, and the county government. Subsequently, the white-to-black ratio in the county and the schools altered. Through advocacy efforts of teachers, concerned residents, and students, the elective programs in Prince George's County Public Schools were twice spared from elimination, in 1982 and again in 1991. Music education remains an active part of the Prince George's County School curriculum due in part to the work of Battle, Allison, and Pickard, music educators who displayed creativity in the face of adversity. They set an example for other educators of how to produce, maintain, and support quality-performing groups in music education.