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Thomas J. West Music

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Another Pennsylvania Music Ed Program In Jeopardy: McGuffey School District

Posted on May 18, 2011 at 7:52 PM

I was saddened today to hear of yet another school district in my home state of Pennsylvania that is choosing to prioritize high-stakes testing subjects by hobbling the district's music program. McGuffin High School Marching Band members, along with help from the nearby Trinity High School band program, played marches and other repertoire in a town square rally against the McGuffin school board's proposal to cut the fifth and sixth grade band and chorus programs [LINK].


Cutting elementary music programs is a very common cost-saving maneuver, and it is one of  the most pedagogically backward decisions a school board that claims to support a well-rounded curriculum in arts and humanities can make.


Imagine if a school board decided to do away with all elementary mathematics curricula and then begin mathematics studies in middle school by offering pre-algebra and geometry. Does that make sense? Of course not. The study of music is similar to mathematics in many ways. Basic concepts and skills must be mastered first before more advanced concepts can even be approached. One would never ask a third grader who is just learning their multipication tables to perform a quadratic equation. Similarly, no one would ask an elementary trumpet player to perform the first movement of the Hummel Trumpet Concerto.


No public school music program is safe right now, no matter how long it has been established, nor what level of excellence and recognition it has obtained. I recently reported about the cuts being proposed to one of the most highly recognized music education programs in Pennsylvania: Boyertown Area School District [articles here and here].


Once again, I encourage everyone who values music education to act locally. Parents, know what is going on in your district and send a message of support to your school board even if there are no cuts on the agenda at this time; let them know you are paying attention. Music teachers, it is well past time to "circle the wagons" and identify your music program's weak points. Read this article I wrote entitled How To Protect Your Music Program From Looming Budget Cuts.


The state GOP recently offered a counter proposal to Governor Corbett's drastic educational cutbacks [LINK]. It's a step in the right direction, but as long as this governor is in Harrisburg, expect rough times for Pennsylvania's public education system.


UPDATE: Here is a link to the Facebook group supporting the McGuffey band program


This article (c) 2011 Thomas J. West. All content on ThomasJWestMusic dot com is licensed under a Creative Contributions Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License. Please contact the author before publishing on or off-line.

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Categories: Music Education, Editorial

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