Last night, I had to tell Beatrix that, due to a 100K+ budget cut to her school, they were cutting music. Her immediate response was that the kids should stage a protest to keep it. I love the idea of her standing in the music room with her violin, refusing to stop playing until they reinstated music.
But as much as I admire this feistiness, my hear is sick that music got cut. I'm not blaming her teachers or her principal. They were faced with a ridiculous situation; the principal received the budget information late last Sunday, a major piece has changed every day, and it is due back to the District tomorrow, with no exceptions. The district is facing a 15.1 million dollar shortfall, though I am compelled to point out that a large part of that is due to reduced enrollment (people leaving because they can't put up with SPPS any more), and some (in my mind, major) mis-management of facilities, retirement incentives, and free/reduced lunch eligibility. But all that aside, when it came down to it, her school itself had to make cuts.
Her principal, and the teachers there, handled it well. Her principal really went to bat to save other programs, including G&T. They surveyed parents about which "elective" (art, music, PE, or science) should go (though it turns out that PE can't be dropped, by state law - huh?). The teachers and principal worked together to determine what the might be able to teach in class, through residencies (with PTA funds), etc. And yes, I know that Randolph Heights has been lucky to have music, and art, and a regularly open library, and science, and gym, and extended day learning.
And Beatrix will be fine. Right after the meeting, I headed to her opening night at circus. As well as circus, she takes Norwegian dance, and violin, and piano, and voice, and music theory. I've carefully balanced her camps this summer for the most experiences in these "electives."
But in the end, I'm boiling mad, and as I said above, heartsick. When did we get to the point that ANY of these classes are considered dispensable? For the kids whose parent are not out there really working the opportunities, how are they going to get music in their lives? Study after study shows a phenomenal connection between the arts — specifically music — and learning. But we throw it all away.
I'm sure anyone reading this has already seen the MPR blog post about the importance of music in education. I've heard 100 people this week alone say similar things. Of course I agree.
But when it comes down to it, what are we going to DO about it?