Eloise Porter, President, Los Angeles City Elementary Schools Music Assoc writes 4LAKids
Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 11:14 PM
So it seems the powers-that-be at LAUSD care not for children--only for numbers.
In the latest effort to be 'fair' in assigning the correct number of arts semesters based on enrollment numbers in our elementary schools, the District, in its great wisdom, is again creating chaos for students and destroying long-standing instrumental music programs, as well as bringing confusion to schools with other art teachers who are being moved after schools planned for their schedules.
For some background, itinerant elementary music teachers have always been assigned to schools for an entire year, although the newer program of Dance, Theater, and Visual Art (VAPA) was scheduled in shorter blocks of time. This school year there are 36 schools with general music programs that have been down-graded to one semester only. This is NOT creating a music program. However, we were told that the administrators in the Arts Branch understood that they had to maintain year-long programs for instrumental music, due to the distribution of instruments and the amount of time needed for a child to become skillful on any instrument.
However, on Tuesday last week, December 10, two of our instrumental teachers were told (without prior notice) that they would have to leave one of their schools (schools with long-established instrumental programs) and move to another school in January that has never had an instrumental program. This change of assignment, they were told, was because of changes in enrollment on norm day last September. This means several things:
- Children will be devastated and orchestra programs destroyed
- Instruments will have to be collected from students who have learned to play them.
- Students in the new school will not have any instruction until at least mid February, because of the audition process and process for distributing instruments
- Principals in future will not trust that they can sign up for an instrumental program and expect it--or any other arts program--to continue.
- People who knew about this in October did not share it until now, making it impossible for schools to find another solution, such as raising funds to keep their program.
The elementary instrumental music program has never been an 'introduction to instruments' program, but rather a sequential learning experience building to elementary orchestra and on to middle and high school bands and orchestras. The School Board passed a resolution the establish the arts as a core subject. In addition, they asked Deasy to provide a budget to support restoration of the arts program to 2008-9 levels. This recent action is definitely NOT the way to do it. To destroy established instrumental programs in Title I schools in the middle of the school year seems especially egregious, unnecessary, and totally ineffective in delivering music education.
Because of lack of transparency in the District, it is impossible for us to know or find out who is responsible for this decision. Steven McCarthy or Judi Garret, Arts Administrators? (Both theater people by training) Susan Tandberg or Gerardo Loera or Jaime Aquino in the Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and School Support (OCISS)? John Deasy? Who knows???
Thank you for any help you can give bringing this matter to the attention of the public.
Eloise Porter, President, LACESMA
Los Angeles City Elementary Schools Music Association