When I started this blog I promised myself that I wouldn't write posts that cause me to rant and rave on a certain topics. However something has come up that I can't remain silent, and it has left me angry, upset, and heartbroken. Last week it was announced that Atlanta Public Schools would be cutting its elementary band and orchestra programs. Eighteen music teachers lost their jobs. Eighteen teachers. Heartbreaking. In the first reports there were many miscommunication issues, that included that all music programs in elementary schools had been cut. While I am happy that is not the case, this is still far from an ideal situation. Below is a news link to a local Atlanta new station, the covered the issue.
Read Story Here.
The teacher featured in this story gave 27 years of his life and teaching to APS, and he is told you no longer have job. There hasn't been much discussion in the news, but from what I can gather there were no discussions over the future of these programs with the teachers involved, the schools involved, and the decision makers for APS. I even wonder if site administers where informed in a timely manner about the programming changes that would be occurring. But here is what really made me mad, APS stating that eliminating these programs would "mirror the district's direction to increase instructional quality and efficiency." That is a slap in the face to every music teacher at any grade level from elementary to college and subject level from general, vocal and instrumental music. To say that eliminating any music program would increase instructional quality and efficiency, is not only offensive, but it is harmful and dangerous.
In order to be certified music teacher in any state you have to have some form of a Bachelor's in Music. Let me tell you, obtaining a music degree is not easy! There are countless of hours that are poured into this degree. This includes music theory, ear training, sight singing, private lessons in an applied area of study, private lessons in a secondary area of study, conducting, education method classes, music history classes, performance recitals, ensembles, and not to mention the other requirements of the college that the student is attending. We are already qualified! I'm not naive to believe that all music teachers are amazing and can solve all of the world's problems, I know that there are bad teachers. However, I know more great and amazing teachers than bad ones.
I provide instructional quality and efficiency everyday. In my middle school choir class I teach literacy, numeracy, historical context, scientific concepts, and citizenship all while kiddos are learning to sing. And guess what? My students have no idea they are getting those things, they just think that they are learning to sing, and it is funny when they figure it out. "Miss Loyd this is choir and you tricked me into doing math!" For the Love, it is hilarious when they figure that out. Music teachers educate the whole the child. Children should be receiving a quality, well-rounded education. Students need a wealth of educational experiences, not just one side. These are things that will make them successful in higher education.
So today my heart is breaking for my colleagues in Atlanta Public Schools looking for new jobs. To you I say, you are qualified and you are efficient. I'm sorry that you were treated in this manner, you deserved so much better. My heart also breaks for the students of these programs, you deserved so much better. Please do not let this stop your musical studies. Music changed my life and it will change your life.