Ho Ho Ho Everybody!

Yes indeed it is that time of year. It is time to find out
who has been naughty (and you know who you are!) and who has been nice, who
will find a lump of coal in their stocking and who will find something a little
more pleasant.

It is my Annual Holiday Gift List for Santa!

So, with the marching band season and the holiday chorus and
band concerts behind you it is time to sit back relax and enjoy the parade of

Dear Santa,

It’s me again, Bob Morrison. How’ve you been? How’s the
missus? Loved you in the new Chevy TV ads. I didn’t know you freelanced as a
car salesman on the side!

Yes, I know, it has been almost ten years of me writing to
you requesting goodies and not-so-goodies for unsuspecting yet deserving
individuals and organizations. And this year is no exception! You know how much
I LOVE to give presents in an election year!

Anyway, please pack your sleigh with the following items for
some deserving folks this year:

For President Obama — A Ginormous Bottle of TUMS (Tum
After winning re-election here is what you receive as the victor:
a divided congress and American population, fiscal cliffs, declining bond
ratings, a sluggish economy and widely suspect education policy. On the best of
days this is going to give anyone an upset stomach. At least you get what many
people do not… a second chance! But if this is what awaits the winner I would
hate to see what the loser gets…

For Mitt Romney — A Brand New Career! That’s right! For
losing your second campaign for president, after spending eight years of your
life and millions and millions of dollars of your own money and what do you get
to show for it? Nothing!

For Bill Clinton — Four More Years! OK, I know this is
constitutionally impossible but you got to admit… love him or hate him Bill
Clinton has been one of the greatest politicians in our history and he has
certainly set the bar high for being an effective past president with his work
on the various causes housed inside the Clinton Global Initiative. And hey,
wasn’t it cool to have a sax playing bando in the White House?

For Governor Christie (Yes I am a homer) — Four More Years
(I can give more than one right?). Yes, a lot of people want you to run for
president and everything but we could still use some of your “Jersey Style”
around… Jersey. With a gubernatorial campaign coming up in 2013 and years of
rebuilding after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy I believe our state needs
you more now than any place else. Beside, all the Republicans are mad at you…
which brings me to…

For the Republican Party — An Anti-Reality Distortion Field!
Do you really think Christie cost Romney the election? Really?  Are you sure the reason for Romney’s loss
doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that he ran one of weakest campaigns
in American history and offended 50% of the population along the way while
taking on a sitting President overseeing a very weak economy? You do?
Yea…Romney the lost election lost Chris Christie hugged the president. Oh,
waiter… I’ll have whatever it is they are drinking!

In the spirit of treating both parties unfairly, equally…

And for the Democratic Party — An Agenda. Yes your guy won
the election but I am not sure there was a clearly articulated agenda other
than “The other guy is worse than me.” And co-opting Republican education
strategies and packaging it as your own does not count as a strategy. It is sad
to think we could have elected either parties standard bearer as president and
the impact on education would be exactly the same. This, in and of itself, is

For Education Officials in Oregon — A Clue! Sadly, Oregon
will begin testing all 5-year-olds next fall to assess their “readiness” for
kindergarten. Some people believe it is never too soon to test children. These
people should be shot (metaphorically of course). Have we just gone off the
deep end of the pool? Sir Ken Robinson has it right: the big challenge for our
students is not getting through school… it is getting through school without
the system beating the creativity out of them. Putting kindergarten and pre-K students
through standardized testing is clearly a step in the WRONG direction. But
where are all the education researchers? Why are they silent?

For UK Education Secretary Michael Gove — truth serum! In
early 2012 the Secretary cut funding for music programs by 43% but told the
public his plan would actually lead to more music education (maybe he failed
math). This great slight of hand act was followed up by proposing a new
“English baccalaureate” for graduation from school (Think common core) which
would focus on fewer subjects (can you guess what they left out?). UK
celebrities and citizens have been rightfully outraged at the threat to
creativity in the schools. Secretary Gove says this will help INCREASE
creativity. Somebody is not telling the truth… any guesses?

For the STEM Education Reformers (Science, Technology,
Engineering and Mathematics) — A Vowel!
That’s right, you cannot talk seriously about creativity and education reform
and forget to include the subjects that
are based on creativity!
 So with
your “Buy a Vowel” card go out and get an “A” for “Arts.” Now your acronym will
be STEAM… maybe by including the arts you can get a head of STEAM going for
education reform. Otherwise it becomes nothing more than a bunch of hot air. 

For West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jorea
Marple — a New Job as US Secretary of Education!
First, she instructed her
department to conduct research on the impact of arts instruction on students
across the state.  The office of research
confirmed an association between arts participation and progressively higher
levels of academic proficiency and performance and finding that participating
in arts programs beyond the one credit minimum improved academic
proficiency.  Then she went on a tour of the state to promote the
findings. Finally a policy maker who really does believe in research based
education reform!             

For the Education Policies in the Cities of Boston, Chicago,
Los Angeles and Portland — Cloning Machines!
All three cities have instituted
major education initiatives to bring music and the arts back to more students.
In Boston, superintendent Carol Johnson has been methodically working her
multi-year plan to restore music and arts programs. . Chicago just announced a
plan to expand arts offerings in all schools as part of a citywide arts
blueprint. Los Angeles just elevated the arts to equal status with other
subjects ensuring there could be no more funding cut and is developing a plan
to deploy arts across the district. In Portland, a new tax levy was approved by
voters explicitly to fund arts education in schools. We need to clone these
programs and take them to others!

For All Other Major Cities — A Trip to Boston, Chicago, Los
Angeles and Portland.
Three cities is a good start but if we really want some
traction we will need more and more cities to follow the bold lead of these
education innovators so the lessons they have learned may be transported to
other communities.

For the Clark Atlanta University, Texas Southern University,
North Carolina Central University and Florida A&M University Marching Band
Come on folks! A year after the tragic hazing
death of the Florida A&M Drum major and we have to read about… FOUR MORE
HAZING INCIDENTS? This is marching band not some street gang or fraternity or
even Congress. Enough already. One death is one too many. These absurd rituals
must come to a stop. If you can’t stop then it is time to kill the programs.

For Carmel High School (IN) — Grand Nationals Champion
Emeritus Status!
Under the leadership of director Richard Saucedo the school has
won a boat-load of Grand National Championships. If we make Carmel the Grand
National Champion Emeritus it will give some other schools a fighting chance.
Richard has been arguably the best director of this era overseeing one of the
great programs of our time. Congratulations to you and the entire Carmel Band
family! And while we are at it, If Carmel is one of the great public school programs…

For Immaculata High School (NJ) — National Recognition!
Immaculata is one of the great instrumental music programs in the country
(housed in a small private school). With the 2012 USBANDS national title and an
undefeated season in hand for their marching band and a consistently great
instrumental program year in and year out this small private school deserves
some national props! The music program, lead by department chair Sister Dolores
Margaret, Band Director Ed Weber and Assistant Director Frank Amato, is one of
the best kept secrets outside of the east coast and is one school that others
could certainly learn from.

For the Ohio State Marching Band — A Standing Ovation! I
have seen a lot of creative shows in the course of my career but the video game
half time show on October 6, 2012 was one for the record books. The show,
featuring the music from Mario Bros., Pac-Man and Zelda has been viewed more
than 14 million times on YouTube and will be talked about for generations to
come. Kudos to first year director Jonathan Waters and his staff for building
on TBDBITL’s traditions and creating a show for the ages!

And lastly, to all our readers, who bring the wonderful gift
of music to students across this nation everyday — may you receive as much joy
this holiday season as you give to your students and have a very happy, healthy
and prosperous new year!

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