Write a polite, professional, high-character letter advocating for K-12 music programs in Beaverton and send it to these people by 10am Friday, June 1st:
Superintendent of Beaverton Schools
Dr. Jeff Rose Jeff_Rose@beaverton.k12.or.us
School Board Members
Karen Cunningham Karen_Cunningham@beaverton.k12.or.us
Tom Quillin Tom_Quillin@beaverton.k12.or.us
Mary Vanderweele Mary_VanderWeele@beaverton.k12.or.us
Sarah Smith Sarah_Smith@beaverton.k12.or.us
LeeAnn Larsen LeeAnn_Larsen@beaverton.k12.or.us
Jeff Hicks Jeff_Hicks@beaverton.k12.or.us
Linda Degman Linda_Degman@beaverton.k12.or.us
Budget Committee Members
Susan Greenberg firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Bouchard email@example.com
Carrie Anderson firstname.lastname@example.org
Carmin Ruiz email@example.com
John Burns firstname.lastname@example.org
Gerardo Ochoa email@example.com
Cameron Irtifa firstname.lastname@example.org
You may also wish to use the same talking points in a clear, concise two-minute speech to deliver to the school board at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, June 4, 2012, District Administration Center, 16550 SW Merlo Rd.
We are not asking for a compromise or partial reinstatement. We are demanding that music be staffed at 100% of its current level. That means full-time music specialists at each elementary school, and middle and high school choral and instrumental programs retained at current level. WE NEED MORE MUSIC IN OUR SCHOOLS, NOT LESS. The recommended national minimum is 90 minutes a week K-12. Currently we are only averaging 60 min. per week at the elementary level.
Although other specialized programs in the district have been partially or fully eliminated, we need to be clear about our position to support and advocate for music. Avoid confusing the issue by bringing in PE, Library etc.
Our Slogan “Music Makes a Difference”
This should be in the subject line of every e-mail message and in the conclusion — preferably the last sentence— of any speech or letter you write. (The music advocacy audience has decided to echo this line each time it is delivered in a speech by one of our members on June 4th.) You may wish to include a few additional words to vary the subject line of your e-mails to avoid having them interpreted as spam and deleted by junk-mail filters.
The Beaverton School District is cutting $37M from the 2012-13 school year budget, which will reduce the music programs to critical levels.
• Reduction of music teachers: 19 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions will be eliminated.
• Remaining staff could be inappropriately placed in positions; i.e. a general elementary music teacher could suddenly be faced with maintaining a high school band or choral program. That individual may have seniority with no experience or desire for the new position. Moving teachers around like this is against best-practices. Learning is maximized by having the right teacher in the right position.
• Most positions (including high schools) will be reduced to half time.
Program Impact – Short Term
• Inexperienced overworked instructors placed in new positions.
• Instruction in combined classes that will not allow for growth and maximum potential.
• Most instructors will be required to teach at more than one school – focused attention, after school help/practice, and competitive programs will all be affected.
• Teacher turnover in music impacts the participation of current students who become uncertain and potentially drop the program reducing classes even further.
Program Impact – Long Term
• Reduction of elementary music has been shown to lead to reduced participation at the middle school level, which will eventually lead to the reduction/elimination of participation at the high school level.
• The caliber of music education will significantly if not completely eliminate the ability for students to continue on a career path in the arts. These reductions will not allow students to be adequately prepared to enter competitive universities.
• Student uncertainty can be life-altering. Students who drop the program can not easily rejoin once the situation stabilizes.
• Reducing music programs isn’t cutting them; it is a path to eliminating them.
• The BSD cuts to the music program total just over $1M. One additional Budget Reduction Day (aka Unpaid Furlough Day) would save the BSD $1M.
• The BSD needs to preserve current funding for music programs.
Arguments and Talking Points
Music is not an “extra,” it is an essential.
Music is core curriculum K-12. It covers Fine Arts standards mandated by the State of Oregon. It should be taught by a full-time specialist at each elementary school, with a full-time instrumental specialist and a full-time choral specialist at each middle and high school. Music is not an extra-curricular endeavor; it is a discipline, a craft and vital to our society as a whole. Music is an important part of achieving our District Goal (2010-2015): All students will show continuous progress toward their personal learning goals, developed in collaboration with teachers and parents, and will be prepared for post-secondary education and career success.
Return on Investment
Studies show that there is a tremendous return on investment when a music program is fully articulated K-12. Students having consistent access and participation at an adequate level is what leads to the value of having music in our schools. Elementary programs provide the foundation to prepare students to access middle and high school programs. Additionally, the benefits of imagination, communication, confidence learned in elementary music follow a child even if (s)he does not continue into a middle or high school music program. We must support full-funding for music programs at all levels K-12.
Relative to cuts in athletics and the general teaching population, cuts to music are disproportionately high.
• 30% of music teaching positions will be eliminated (19.0 out of 60.0 FTE).
• 19 music teachers will be laid off with a few being reassigned to a general classroom if they happen to have that additional certification. That’s 14 from 34 elementary positions and 5 from 26 middle and high school positions.
• Of the 33 elementary schools, only 6 will retain a full-time music teacher at their school.
• 6 of 8 middle schools (not counting the options schools) are losing FTE. Only Cedar Park will remain intact.
• 4 of 5 high schools are losing FTE.
• Regarding athletics, only golf and water polo were cut.
One additional Budget Reduction Day (a.k.a. unpaid furlough day) could save all threatened music positions across the district.
• Each day cut saves the district $1.2 million
• Saving 19 music teachers would cost approximately $1.3 million
The cuts to music are not “sustainable.”
The district often talks of making “sustainable” budget cuts, that is, permanent cuts that do not have to be made again the next year. If cutting music is what the district considers to be “sustainable,” then are we to assume they plan to continue underfunding programs into the future? What is the plan to reinstate the programs? When and how?
We argue that cuts to our music program are not “sustainable,” but rather they are fatal to our programs. As we have seen in the past in other districts, cutting music to the levels proposed will not work. The high school programs will be dead within a few years.
Once programs are cut, they rarely return
Case in point: Music program cuts were made in the early 1990s due to Measure 5. Before those cuts, our district was home to an orchestra program that boasted 1700 fourth and fifth grade string students and 5000 elementary band students. All of the high school band programs were staffed with full-time directors who also had assistants. In addition to band and choir, there was a full 30-40 piece orchestra at each high school. Those programs were cut in 1993 and have never returned. Hardly anyone even remembers them anymore.
The proposed budget adds new programs and staff while cutting music programs and staff.
In order to cut costs on covering elementary teacher plan time, the district will institute two new “classes” that will be offered to every elementary student district-wide: media class and technology class. These 45-minute sessions (delivered on approximately half of the students’ school days) will be supervised by instructional assistants who do not have a teaching certificate (some may not even have a college education). No new material will be introduced by the instructional assistants during these sessions. They amount to a study hall in the library and a study hall in the computer lab. This proposal is akin to warehousing and babysitting students. The IA’s are less expensive to employ, and thus save the district money. While they are very nice people, they are essentially scabs for certified positions, and they are not providing education to students. Having students spend instructional time being supervised at school by non-teachers is in conflict with the District Goal (2010-2015): All students will show continuous progress toward their personal learning goals, developed in collaboration with teachers and parents, and will be prepared for post-secondary education and career success because it does not help prepare them for post-secondary education and career success. Only certified teachers can do that!
Music instruction will be extremely inequitable for students across the district.
All elementary students will have a 45-minute music class. However, some will get music once every 4 days, while others will get music every 5, 6 or 8 days. This plan is unacceptable.
Our community supports 10 Budget Reduction Days.
At meetings at every school during the month of February, the district collected information from parents and staff regarding how they would solve the budget crisis. Survey results published by the district showed parents and staff overwhelmingly supported the notion of cutting ten days from the school year in order to preserve programs and teachers. http://www.beaverton.k12.or.us/pdf/ci/ci_Budget%20Teaching%20Sessions%20Summary.pdf (page 12)
Arguments for using Budget Reduction Days to balance our school budget
• Budget reduction days are unpaid furlough days, meaning that teachers take a pay cut to help the school system running.
• Budget reduction days preserve the educational integrity of a school system retaining teachers and important school programs.
They reduce the chaotic “bumping” of school staff that happens after layoffs, helping schools stay efficient and connected to their parent community.
• Budget reduction days are easy to replace when funding for schools goes back up.
• Budget reduction days encourage the public to put pressure on the legislature to FIX THE WEAK TAXATION AND APPROPRIATION POLICIES THAT CREATED OUR BUDGET SHORTFALL IN THE FIRST PLACE.
• Budget reduction days mitigate or prevent increases in class size.
• Budget reduction days keep school staff employed, so that they continue to contribute to state tax revenues that fund schools.
• Budget reduction days make school cuts noticeable by the general public. They communicate the importance of funding schools properly in order to get the results we need.
The process of adding Budget Reduction Days (BRDs)
BRDs require negotiation with the Beaverton Education Association (teacher’s union). The BEA membership recently accepted a contract with the district that proposed only five BRDs for 2012-13 and four for 2013-14. Any additional BRDs would need to be negotiated and approved by the BEA. This requires the School Board to take action on June 4th by rejecting the current budget proposal and insisting that central administration pursue additional BRDs with the union. It is the school board’s duty to protect the school system. They have said that these cuts are terrible, so why haven’t they done everything they could to mitigate them? Adding five additional BRDs is an obvious choice. The community supports it, and so do most teachers.
The district is purchasing new laptops for every teacher?!
The district plans to spend nearly $450,000 in 2012-13 to purchase a new laptop computer for every classroom teacher. This expenditure had been deferred in the past to mitigate layoffs, but not this year. The laptops are not needed! This purchase can wait until funding levels improve. Use the savings to retain more teachers!
Music is Cultural Music is a unique means of transmitting our cultural heritage to succeeding generations. Music is a language that all people speak; it cuts across racial, cultural, social, educational and economic barriers, and enhances cultural appreciation and awareness. Through music students come to a better understanding of the nature of mankind as well as the diversities and similarities among cultures.
Music is Creative There are infinite ways in which children can express themselves in a music class. Creativity is an essential element of music-making, composition, improvisation and performance. In this technological age, music education provides students with opportunities to use their imagination and think outside the box whether they are working alone or in groups. Music education has changed from the model of 40 years ago. Today, children learn in multiple modalities singing, dancing, playing instruments, creating, composing, improvising, moving freely, dramatizing, listening and evaluating music.
Music is Key to Brain Development Music education profoundly affects brain development engaging all four parts of the brain and provides children opportunities to learn spatially, aurally, visually, kinesthetically, musically, interpersonally, intrapersonally, linguistically, and logically. Music has its own powerful language and symbol system which, when taught, requires students to analyze, compare, contrast, sequence, remember, and problem-solve. When children perform, they receive immediate feedback and opportunities for reflection. There is no doubt that the study of music improves academic achievement, enhances test scores, attitudes, social skills, critical and creative thinking.
Music is Life Skills Music promotes character development and leadership in students. Musical experiences can boost self-esteem, reinforce positive social behaviors, promote teamwork and discipline.
Music is Community Music teachers are essential leaders in school communities. They have contact with all children and their siblings. They often lead assemblies and host music programs which build a sense of community bringing families together to celebrate the arts, various traditions, and those experiences which build confidence and promote self-expression in children.
Music is Integral Music Education integrates math, language, geography, history, science, social studies, art and physical education. Some students may struggle with regular classroom subjects yet find the joy of success in music.
Music is Fun Music is the heart of the school, promoting school spirit. raising voices in song, and helping students to reach their potential through creativity and self-expression. Music enhances the quality of life integrating mind, body and spirit.