Public Testimony From Judy Nielsen

To the Beaverton School Board

June 18, 2012


Good evening,

My name is Judy Nielsen, and I am not only an Elementary Music Specialist with the Beaverton School District, but also the mother of five sons who graduated from this district.

There are many experiences I could share with you about the power of music in students’ lives.  Instead, I’ve chosen to focus on one serious ramification of cuts to music that you and the public may not be aware of.

Music teachers train in either instrumental or vocal/choral music.  Expertise in either of these disciplines comes from literally years of study and practice.  At one time, our Oregon teacher certification recognized that we were trained as either instrumentalists or vocalists.  However, our current Oregon certification lumps as all together as “Music” teachers, with no regard as to the area of our expertise.

At present, HR is planning on considering only our seniority and certification in placing us in positions for next year.  As close to twenty music teachers with less seniority are laid off, the remaining teachers may be placed into positions for which they have little or no training.

When I expressed my concerns about this issue, and asked HR to please survey us as to our expertise, I was told that our situation was just like an elementary teacher being assigned to teach 8th grade math.  I replied that nothing could be further from the truth.  Years of training as an instrumentalist or vocalist cannot be disregarded or suddenly learned from a book!

If the proposed music cuts go into effect, it would be utterly irresponsible of the district to place music teachers into any open music position without regard to our expertise.  Not only would it be irresponsible, it would eventually mean not just the reduction, but the death of music in the Beaverton schools.  Is this really what we want for the children we claim to serve?

I implore you to ask HR to take the time to survey us as to what we are experts at.  In light of the proposed and tragic cuts to music, isn’t this the least the district can do?

Thank you for listening.

Judy Nielsen                                                                                                                                               Elementary Music Specialist                                                                                                                                       Beaverton School District

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