Image from Fiddleheads6 weeks. That is all that remains of the 4th-8th grade orchestra.
Last night the school board unanimously approved all proposed cuts. Several teachers and programs suffered reductions of 10-51%: band, elementary general music, gym, health, guidance, and the gifted and talented program. Both orchestra and pre-K were eliminated entirely.
Many students, parents, teachers, and community members turned out to voice their support for the instrumental programs. Some students played their instruments, others spoke quite passionately about what music means to them. One student brought tears to my eyes. "Some people are good at sports, others art. I'm not. I am good at music, and it is what makes me special," he stated, "Without music I am nothing, just a sixth grade nothing."
I understand budgets must be reconciled, and money is tight right now, but I question the direction. What is the long term plan? Will programs and positions continue to be reduced to the point where it is impossible to offer students high quality instruction? Even with the approved cuts the school is still coming up short. The outlook seems murky at best. There is an unsettling lack of vision and practical solutions. After the meeting a colleague said, "When will education be about serving the needs of students and community, not administrators and accountants?"
Orchestra was tough to teach today. The kids were aching. The only option was to let go and make beautiful music together. And we did.
How are the schools in your area fairing?