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Music instruction should be restored

The Buffalo Public School District is continuing on its long path of decline. Low graduation rates coupled with the latest cuts in music education are indicative of systemic failure.

Test scores, we are told, are everything, and preparation for tests must take precedence over “frills” like music. A study published in 2007 at the University of Kansas, however, revealed that in elementary schools with superior music education, students scored 22 percent higher in English and 20 percent higher in math scores on standardized tests, regardless of socioeconomic disparities. In a school district with so many underprivileged students and high school graduation rates less than 50 percent, it would seem then that music instruction, if anything, would be a priority.

We are told that there is no money for music instruction. A cursory look at the current budget, which can be accessed online on the Buffalo Public School website, raises many questions. Why, in a school district that has lost significant population over the years, is administration so extensive? Page 28, for instance, lists nine departments dealing with financial matters and each one of these departments has a director along with office staff and expenses. Administration needs to be streamlined. Rather than fund such a large staff, wouldn’t it be better to consolidate departments and put the savings back into programs for the students and their teachers?

The current state of the school system is one of the prime reasons that young parents move from the city to suburbia, and now Buffalo ranks as one of our nation’s poorest cities. This situation can only be improved by a strong public school system. It is time for Superintendent Pamela Brown and the Buffalo School Board to come together and make the necessary changes to transform our schools. Restoring instrumental music would be a good first step.

Barbara Jezioro

Buffalo