Could Superintendent Pamela C. Brown really be about to heed public reaction and restore some money to the band and orchestra programs to be cut in 14 city schools? Or is this wishful thinking on the part of anyone who cares about the enriching aspect of music when trying to set high educational standards?
We’re hoping we won’t see the day the music dies in Buffalo schools.
Brown recently sent a letter to her “BPS Colleagues” that at least indicates a willingness to re-examine the situation.
This is not the first time the district has been swayed by public reaction. Earlier this year it decided to stop maintaining Johnnie B. Wiley stadium, which serves both student and community athletic needs. But after concerns were voiced by Common Council members, the district reversed itself and came up with a less-expensive plan to maintain the facility.
Brown should be similarly swayed when it comes to the music programs, given the appropriate outrage from all corners of the community when the proposed cuts became public. While the district’s first responsibility, appropriately, centers on English and math and not the trombone, school must be more than just reading, writing and arithmetic.
Brown has apparently gotten the message. In her letter, she said the proposed music cuts stemmed from two initiatives designed to improve the allocation of resources, based on specific student needs and school-based budgeting. School Leadership Teams analyzed students’ needs and were charged with making the best decisions for students, she said.
In some cases, Brown wrote, “… these decisions resulted in the reduction or elimination of some instrumental music programs” in order to strengthen core education.
Following the hue and cry from many whose own school years were enhanced by an instrumental music program, even if they didn’t go on to perform with the Philharmonic, Brown has been working with the School Board and community leaders to at least partially restore these programs for the 2013-14 school year.
It’s only a one-year solution, as Brown said, but it will give the district time to assess the role of the arts, athletics and similar programs and how they will figure in the curriculum.
The dedication to such programs should be just as strong as it is to academic subjects. If money is a roadblock, the Buffalo Teachers Federation could come to the aid of the students by giving up facial peels, tummy tucks and other procedures that are part of the union’s cosmetic surgery rider. That rider, according to School Board member John B. Licata, cost the district nearly $1.7 million in 2011-12 alone, money that could be put to better use.
Putting music education for students ahead of facial peels might be asking a little too much. Still, it doesn’t hurt to ask.