Latest News

Catalyst Chicago Magazine - News and Analysis

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Do elementary instrumental teachers just teach music lessons?

Do elementary instrumental teachers just teach lessons?  They can do that after school can't they?

No.  We do not just teach lessons.
We teach ensembles and direct concerts
We build and create teams.  
These teams can continue all the way through to high school.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

What to tell the board

We believe that the board has been misinformed about the nature and and extent of the cuts to elementary music.

1.Music will be completely removed from school's curriculum as many Schools have no classroom music specialists. 

A classroom teacher singing a song or showing a picture of a violin is not a substitute for learning music. 

2.The proposed ALC music program has nothing to do with the current itinerant music program. 

Those teachers, 10.6, are scheduled to be laid off.
They will be replaced with part time workers.

3.There is no evidence that day time pull-outs inhibit learning.

4.There is no evidence that removing music from the school day will increase efficiency.

5.Rather there is evidence that removing day time music will cause the loss of students and the funding that comes with them. 

It will not save money.

6.The effect of these cuts on the quality of the middle and high school programs will be substantial.   

Besides the program continuity issue the entire music staff will have to be reshuffled.

7.No one knows what this after school program is or what it will be.

8.We do know that the proposed after school music program represents approximately an 85% cut in funding and a 90% cut in face time. In addition it may involve outsourcing.   

How can this program reach more children?
The issue of Friday scheduling (fewer teaching days) became a problem only because of the directives and inflexibility from the district.  This is not even a problem for every teacher.  For the few it does concern many have found creative solutions.

9.The proposed after school music program is essentially vaporware. 

Accountability starts now.

10.Music still bares the brunt of layoffs.  

Just like last year. 

11.Who knows where or when the cuts to music will end.

Did music have to be cut? 
Could cuts have been made elsewhere?

The board voted April 20th to cut only 8 administrative positions out of the proposed 20.

From Paul Rohlfing:

Allow principals to decide whether to spend building dollars on Coaches instead of mandating coaches as has been the practice at the district in recent years. Making the hiring of building coaches an option would result in schools being able to prioritize more dollars to direct service to kids and families.

From Mary Cathryn:

Currently 300+ teachers on special assignment or TOSA positions.

·      Prioritize bricks & mortar spending on energy efficiency for long-term cost savings

·      Limit the use of outside consultants and use the expertise of the 3,200+ licensed staff already employed by SPPS (look for internal solutions—like for cultural competency, literacy instruction, etc.)

·      Moratorium on initiatives and limit the current initiatives.

·      In considering school closings, set criteria for closing that includes respecting the impact on the school and neighborhood community AND define how we will better meet the needs of students and expand their access to high-quality, licensed and non-licensed staff at the same time.

·      Work together on a student recruitment campaign because we still have so much to offer in St. Paul Public Schools we can coordinate how we showcase the district’s attributes.

·      Make a decision about busing, have a rationale for it, and move on.

·      Eliminate leased space-cost neutral to the district but critically important to St. Paul as we look to our referendum renewal (Currently 20 levies operating for St. Paul Public Schools, only 1 is voter-approved).

·      Rethink how we deliver ALC programming, to better meet the needs of our students AND be more cost-effective with the money at the same time.