Music classes at San Diego's elementary schools are on the chopping block

San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/6/11

This year, there are dozens of San Diego Unified elementary schools that devote about an hour each week to teaching students the basics of musical instruments. Next year, there might only be one. The district's visual and performing arts curriculum faces a $2.8 million cut from its $3 million budget this year as officials try to fill the projected $120 million hole in the district's $1.2 billion operating budget.  Cutting elementary music education could also have the same "trickle-up" effect it did in the '80s, when the music programs at several high schools dried up because there were no students feeding into them, said Ann Marie Haney, co-chair of San Diego's Community Council for Music in the Schools.  "It's like anything that has to grow," Haney said. "If you don't plant seeds in the ground and you cut off the roots, you're not going to have a surviving plant."  Stephen Luchs, elementary music teacher, [added]: "I'm worried about all of our jobs. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't. But I'm not going to emphasize that. I'm worried about the program and a whole generation of kids who might miss out on music education."


Highlight your local program as a 'Best Community for Music Education'

            NAMM Foundation website, 3/7/11

The Foundation is once again conducting a nationwide search to identify the Best Communities for Music Education. As an industry professional, you're encouraged to apply on behalf of your district before the March 11th deadline. "This distinction led to increased funding of our music program and built greater recognition of the program within the community," [said a] 2010 Best Community recipient.  This annual program recognizes and celebrates supports and commitment to music education programs for all children by communities and their school administrators, teachers, board members, parents, community leaders and student. You may wish also to forward this message to a school administrator or other local educators who have the necessary data close at hand.  Follow this link and learn how your district can maximize the benefits of a Best Communities for Music Education designation.


Arts teachers disappearing from NYC schools - and that's before massive layoffs

New York Daily News, 3/7/11

[New York] City schools are already down 135 arts teachers -- even before the massive layoffs projected for next year, Education Department data show.  An additional 356 arts teachers risk pink slips as part of the proposed layoff of 4,600 teachers citywide -- a cut that would bring the number of certified arts teachers down by close to 20% over three years.  "This would be disastrous for school arts programming and for our city's schoolchildren and would practically wipe away all the gains made over the last decade," said Doug Israel of the Center for Arts Education.  At the middle school level, only 59% of schools reported that their graduating 8th graders actually fulfilled the state-mandated requirement for the arts, down from 63% the previous year.  "We are trying to make do with partnerships with cultural institutions," said a Bronx middle school principal who asked to remain anonymous. "But we can't absorb all the cuts and not feel some impact. Do you cut your arts program or your math teacher? It's not a choice anyone wants to make."


Commentary: Why I work in theatre?  It began at a NYC public school.

Leonard Jacobs, NYC World Theatre Day blog, 3/7/11

I was a product of New York City public schools at a time when no one dared call arts education a frill -- its importance, then as now, incontrovertible and obvious. Thanks to a particular teacher -- and the original and adapted plays and musicals he produced -- I came to know intimately the theatre's intoxicating properties: laughter, gasps and applause; the air of achievement and collaboration; the sense of creating and belonging to something greater than ourselves.  Through junior high, high school and college, my furnace-hot passion never wavered. I believe there's a self-actualization process that comes from working in theatre. Many, if not most, young practitioners are blissfully unaware of it. They're newly formed and buoyed by passion -- but rare is the incipient artist able to identify with true, penetrating introspection, the roots of that passion. Its gut. You must do the work.  Why work in theatre? If the 9-year-old on that grammar school stage could answer that question, he'd offer a peroration for the ages. What I will share is a memory that I can articulate in two words: Lights up.


Video: Behind-the-scenes look at 5th graders who performed on the Oscars

P.S. 22 mini-documentary screenshot, 3/3/11

OK, if you can watch this without tearing up a bit then you're one tough cookie. Remember the adorable 5th graders who stole the show at the Oscars? Well, they are from Public School 22 in Staten Island, New York and approximately 80% of the school's population is comprised of Latino and African American students.  We found this short documentary that explains their rise to fame and gives us all a little bit of inspiration along the way.



FROM TC: In case you missed it, the P.S. 22 chorus sang again the day after the Oscars on Oprah Winfrey's show to perform Katy Perry's hit song "Firework" - and they and the audience were surprised when Perry (who flew in from Vienna, where she had been performing) joined them live on stage.  

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