Let's set the stage:
On the steps of the beautiful Department of Education Building, right next to City Hall, in the biggest city and arguably one of the great cultural centers in world, are a dozen or so elementary and middle school students. They have gathered to perform a concert. They stood on the steps blowing into their instruments – trumpets, clarinets, and saxophones – all made out of paper and cardboard, decorated with crayon.
Not a sound could be heard – this was a silent concert. That's the point.
The silence could not have been any louder to amplify the point. Too many children in New York City Public Schools do not have access to music programs, or arts programs, or other programs that would ensure a "quality" education for all children as mandated by the state.
Now many of you who regularly frequent this blog know I am a nut for numbers.So feast your eyes on these: In the three districts that encompass the area represented by the Brooklyn Education Collaborative (District 18 -covering Flatbush and Canarsie; District 19 – covering East New York and Cypress Hill; and District 23 – which includes Ocean Hill and Brownsville), there are 29 schools covering the middle grades. Guess what? 15 do not offer music classes. More than 50%
This stat begs the questions… what is the percentage of schools in NYC that do not offer music classes? How many students are "left behind" because music education is not even a choice for them?
Can we, as a community, stand by while music becomes an educational privaledge for the few and not a right for every child?
The article goes on to report:"You can't keep throwing academics, academics at a child; eventually they will zone out," said Victoria Bousquet, the P.T.A. president of Public School 219 in East Flatbush. "They are little people, and they will get bored, too, doing the same thing every day.
At yesterday's silent concert, which preceded the monthly meeting of the city's Panel for Educational Policy, leaders of the group carried signs that said: "Reading and Math are Not Enough" and "Bands Need Instruments."
Jerry Russo, a spokesman for Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, said officials were reviewing the group's requests.Thank goodness they will review the request.
They have been reviewing requests to increase music and arts programs to to come up with at least a base level of program for ALL students. That was three years ago… still waiting to hear the response
from that one!I hope the folks at the Brooklyn Education Collaborative keep up the pressure. It sure would be nice to see the Department of Education stop "reviewing" and start "doing."