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payoffs in public schools ?

J.D. Williams

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The music program here in my school district on Long Island has a huge amount of students who play instruments. I haven't seen or heard of it in our district.

My son has taken the viola for the past 5 years in both elementary and middle school with different teachers. Neither has even suggested a place to have instruments serviced. The district does have a place to rent instrumnts, however, I know of students who rent or buy their instruments from places other than the one the school uses and it is no problem.

When my son first started I asked for the name of a private teacher and I was given about 5 names to call.

I suppose what you have mentioned is possible but I am not aware of it here. There are also many places near here to rent, buy or have your instruments serviced.

[This message has been edited by rainyann (edited 11-08-2000).]

[This message has been edited by rainyann (edited 11-08-2000).]

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There are definitely crooked teachers out there, though.

As a kid, I was cheated by one into paying twice what a violin was worth. I didn't buy it through a dealer -- my teacher had a "friend" selling it, claimed it was a very good deal, and pressured my parents into buying it, even though I didn't like it very much. The check was written to her, and to my knowledge, she pocketed the difference between the violin's actual worth and what we paid for it.

It took some time to learn this -- eventually my parents got suspicious, and we took it to a dealer for an appraisal.

On the other hand, dealers have to deal with you and everyone you know in the area for the next couple of decades. They've got a lot more to lose if they cheat you.

On student instruments, I would think that the margins in the business would be sufficiently thin that a kickback would simply not be economically feasible.

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I've never heard of any such practice in our area. I can't imagine anyone with a genuine responsiveness to music adhering to such a policy wherever it exists--I would want my students on the best equipment they could find, wherever they could find it. However, I would never fail to mention certain music stores to students' parents based on my own observations--and I get no "kick-back" for my recommendations and would not accept even the suggestion of such a payback.This possibility of a kick-back (and as high as 90% on the take?--good grief!) for purchases is genuinely repulsive to me to hear about.

The only "break" we public school music teachers get financially--and this is only on certain merchandise--is a discount in music store purchases since we tend to buy more than the average customer and often in multiples. I think it would be unethical, of course, to sell back to students at full retail. However, I take it for granted most teachers would be honest.

As if public school teachers don't already get enough grief...and now something new! Oh, well--if the grief helps keep the system honest and improves instruction, Viva la grief! (Or is it Vive la grief? Or Vive le grief? Or Viva le grief? Good grief.)


[This message has been edited by Theresa (edited 11-09-2000).]

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