Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Urgent Call to Action to Save 6th Grade Band and Orchestra Program in the Anchorage School District

--- by Sherri Burkhart Reddick

6th grade Band and Orchestra programs may be cut from elementary schools in the Anchorage School District.   A vote will take place this Thursday Feb 9.  If you believe as I do that these programs must remain in our elementary schools, then please join me in taking action in the next few days to communicate with the School Board.

Here is some background information:

We learned that last week the ASD Music Supervisor received a request for information from a school board member about the potential cost savings if 6th grade band and orchestra were to be eliminated. 

The school board will have its final reading of and will be voting on the ASD budget on Thursday, Feb. 9, starting at 5:00 p.m. in the ASD Education Center Board room.

We can express our opinions regarding the importance of 6th Grade Band and Orchestra in the following ways:
1. Call or email the school board.  To email the school board, send one message to SchoolBoard@asdk12.org  and all seven members will receive it.

2. Testify at the Feb. 9 meeting.  People can sign up to testify via the same email address or can call 742-4312. Testimony is taken in the order received.
3. Attend the meeting to show support for music education. Please wear concert dress or all black. 
The most important message is children must start an instrument early in life; middle school is too late. Personal stories have a big impact, especially from young people. This program has been cut over the years.  Students used to start instrumental music in 4th grade, then the program was cut to starting in 5th grade and several years ago the program was cut to a 6th grade start.  This year, 91% of ASD 6th graders are taking band and orchestra!
School Districts across the country have come to realize that cutting their music programs was short-sighted and detrimental to their students' overall education.  The problem is once you cut a program like this...it is VERY hard to get it back into a budget and it is VERY difficult to get the program to the caliber needed.

Numerous studies have shown that there is a correlation between brain development and the study of music.  In addition, we know that social skills, listening skills, team building and creative expression are developed through the study of music and other artistic disciplines.   We know that students who study music tend to have greater success in school, score higher test scores, and a greater percentage of them attend college than those who do not study music. 

For me this is not about our need for future audiences or even future musicians - it is about our responsibility as a community to give our young people the best education we possibly can. 

Eliminating instrumental music in elementary schools will not enhance our education system.  It will be detrimental.  We will not be giving our students a full education nor will we engage them in the study of an artform that can enhance their studies of other curriculum (math, history, social studies, etc.)  If these programs are eliminated at 6th grade...fewer students will participate in middle and high school programs, and in the coming years these programs will be seriously weakened and potentially eliminated.

If you value Instrumental Music Education for the young people in our community, then please join me in contacting the Anchorage School Board to urge them to keep instrumental music in the curriculum at the elementary school level.

Thank you,

Sherri Burkhart Reddick
Executive Director
Anchorage Symphony Orchestra

1 comment:

Nees4schoolboard said...

The issue is still not decided. You must make sure you choose candidates like myself for the school board. I have been the husband of a music department orchestra teacher for 30 years. The ASD has a 50 year history of Music in the schools. The ONLY way to assure it's continuance, now that Carol "the protector" is retiring is to make sure you only vote for candidates that pledge to leave music in the budget.
You have a chance on Monday to ask that question at Spenard Rec center, when the west side candidate debate is held at 6pm
David Nees