21 April 2003
The Poway Unified School District is facing budget cuts, and have proposed to eliminate the 5th grade band program. Cutting the arts, a favorite tool of financially strapped governments without a long-term view. Fortunately, hundreds of people packed the gym at tonight's School Board meeting in support of the band. Those are our high school band parents behind the 7th grade speaker, who made his case eloquently.
Fifth grade band programs get kids started toward achievement. Studies of places where it has been cut have shown that the cut reduces kids' participation in 6th grade band by 65%. The band enrollments continue into later years and end up costing the schools money, more money than they planned to save with the band cuts. You see, when you take a kid out of band, you take him or her out of a large class that is led by a single teacher. In marching programs, that teacher often has the band kids in two classes per semester. When the band is eliminated the kids go into smaller classes and more teachers, up to a half-dozen of them, need to be hired to teach them. Not exactly a savings.
Not to mention the amazing differences in test score results between kids in band and kids outside of band, more than 100 points on the SAT, for example, these kids learn how to work with a team, learn the discipline of regular practice, and learn that they can achieve things they never thought possible, when they complete their learning of complex parts or solos and perform them in front of an audience.
My 5th grade band teacher, Mr. Clement Weidenmeyer, instilled more confidence and drive in me than many of my other teaches, combined. He made me want to be the best trombonist in the band and always believed it was possible. Matt and Scott's 5th grade teacher has similar dedication. She even formed the district's first 5th grade jazz band, on her own time, after relentless pleading from Scott and his friends. We'd hate to lose her. Can the School Board be so short-sighted? We'll see.