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This makes me angry


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(This has already been posted on the soapbox)

Yesterday, 50 kids from my high school took a trip to Tallahassee to protest the budget cuts that the FL state legislature is voting on. (here it is in the news) I went, along with my quartet. We left the school at 4:45 in the morning and got back at 1 AM the next day. The bus ride was about 7 hours long, and we played for 5 minutes. We spoke to maybe 2 senators. It is not looking good.

If they cut the budget, my school will not be able to be a performing arts school next year. I will not be there, but a lot of my friends will be. Under the current budget proposals, they will not be able to have a 7th period like we have now, and they will have a 6 period day. Therefore, there will be no room for the arts classes. Other proposed cuts to Florida schools include sports programs, full time kindergarten, and many other programs that are important to kids.

We spoke to a few people, and it looks like the House of Representatives is the one that's making trouble, not the Senate. The senators told us that most of them were on our side. They also told us that so far, our emails to the house were making a big impact, since there were so many of them sent in the past few days.

Our school is encouraging everybody to write emails to the representatives letting them know why they should keep funding these school programs. If you would like to help, here is a link to a list of the house reps. If you click on their name, a bio with their email will come up. I would appreciate any help that anyone would like to give with this.

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The same sort of thing is happening in my alabama school, and most of the school system. Maybe systems. Florida is more arts oriented than AL, I believe, though. We are not facing any cuts in sports, but in all arts classes/electives. I really can't see a good reason for all this.

All I can think to tell you is that if your school was origanally specified as an arts school, there may be something that can result from that. Maybe it'll have to go private or something, and if it is, they can't touch it, right? I really don't know.

We have the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, which is a public school, and despite all the cuts, there has been no talk of anything happening to the arts program there. You could check about that. Also, we're trying to raise property taxes by about 2% or something like that. That would be enough for the additional funding we need. Maybe it's the same case for you.

Hope it helps.

yeah, it's MADDENING.

Good luck,

Heather

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This reminds me of a paper I saw about music funding for local education services in England and Wales (I live in Scotland, which is not included in the paper, but the system is similar). The document can be seen at web page.

What it shows is that there is wide variance between different areas in England and Wales as far as what is available is concerned: in some places you can pay £90 per hour and can choose between about three instruments, in others you can learn anything you like and the lessons are free. About 90,000 kids are learning the violin, compared with about 70,000 for flute and similar for clarinet, and 3,000 for viola...

I (used to) conduct a University orchestra here in sunny Scotland and as is often found we had as many people offering flute and clarinet as we did offering violin, although of course we needed about a 1:5 ratio; and to get oboists and bassoonists we had to send all round the countryside on horses and pay fees and travel expenses for players. Of course some people learn instruments with ambitions other than playing in orchestras. It is ever thus, but the paper sheds some light on why instrument takeup doesn't match demand.

That some people just don't get the opportunity however is not just a US thing. I was prohibited from learning the violin when I was 11 by my father, and made to learn the c******t instead, and I was rubbish at it.

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My daughter's school is having the same problems. I went to a school board meeting armed with the 15 page research paper I did on the Effects of Music Education on Academic Success. I gave each board member and administrator a copy of the paper and presented it during the meeting. By the time I was finished with them, eliminating music was off the table and they actually started talking about ways to get more kids into band and choir!

I reccommend to everyone that they write their own research paper on the topic and present it to whoever you have to. They won't be in such a hurry to cut programs they understand to be a benefit to their students.

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Opening Minds through the Arts

OMA RESEARCH PROJECT BACKGROUND

In 1993, the Winston-Salem Piedmont Triad Symphony began a residency/research program with Bolton Elementary School. The music director of the symphony, Peter Perret, wanted to find out more about the connection between music and extraordinary thinking abilities and devised a method to test this hypothesis.

Bolton demographics revealed an average IQ of 92, 70% of the children qualifying for free or reduced lunch and living with single or foster parents. Despite the children’s economic disadvantages, the school was a refuge and haven for learning. With planning and cooperation of the administration, the symphony placed a woodwind quintet from the Winston-Salem Symphony at Bolton School for three years working with children two hours a day, four days a week for sixteen weeks. The first year the quintet worked with first grade students, second year first and second grade, third year first, second and third grade students. Each day the quintet performed for the students, invited them to talk about the music, and to suggest what they wanted the musicians to play&emdash;involving them in higher levels cognitive responses.

Soon after the project began the teachers noted that children’s ability to listen had improved. Tests measured children’s grade-level competencies in reading and math. Before the project 33% the student body was testing at grade level. At the end of the third year 86.5% of the student body was testing at grade level. They found no significant differences in testing between ethnic groups.

The detailed test score results are as follows (% of students who tested competently, i.e., at grade-level and above)

1996, Grade 3 - Reading: 36.5% ; Math: 38.1% (Last class before Project)

1997, Grade 3 - Reading: 85.7% ; Math: 89.3% (These are the students who have undergone 3 years of the music-enhanced curriculum.)

Frank Wood, chief neuro-psychologist at Wake Forest University’s School of Medicine and an acknowledged expert in reading disabilities and the brain, believes that many elements in the Bolton Project curriculum actually influence the thinking process and bring about permanent change. Because it stresses "attentive listening to environmental sounds as well as music, followed closely by an effort to facilitate the students’ own crafting of musical melodies and harmonies," he says, " the project teaches skills that are also fundamental to reading, listening for details, representation of detailed sound frequencies in visual form and fluency in the translation of visual forms to sound." What we have felt intuitively over the years can now be proven scientifically. Music has multiple learning benefits.

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You know, I do think there's something to those studies, and I understand how things need to be justified in the real world to Philistines in decision-making positions, but I just can't help feeling sad that we have to keep justifying the arts as the means to some unrelated end rather than as an essential part of any fully human life and therefore of any even minimally adequate education.

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So which mouth were they talking out of?....( <== Sorry).

"The senators" said they were on "your side" but it would have been interesting to hear what the "representatives" would have said if they had talked to your group.

Best bet -- cover both bases. Write to both legislatures.

Additionally,

As much as I used to like high-school sports, it might be interesting to ask them how much of that budget will be cut?

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