The decline in music and arts courses in our schools is shocking. Even the most stressed-out classroom teacher will admit music and arts teachers have it worse than the rest of us. As we outlined in this post, all too many of those cancellations are based upon false claims that it was a “budget issue,” when the real cause was that the elective time periods are all filled with test prep sessions for the state standardized tests.
Our next submission that has been selected for inclusion in Lifting the Curtain, 2nd edition, is written by an anonymous spouse of a high school band teacher in Florida. Her excellent submission follows this introduction.
In the urban high schools I researched over three years before writing Lifting the Curtain: The disgrace we call urban high school education, almost all of them had eliminated arts and music electives under the patently false pretense that it as due to a lack of funding. The truth was, in each case that additional funding, if given, would always be applied to programs other than arts and music – because no matter what the funding level, there was no room in the curricula for these courses anymore. The elective class periods had all been preempted for standardized test prep.
Here is an excellent view of what is happening to music and arts in our schools.
From a spouse’s point of view, I can clearly look outside the box, yet it breaks my heart to see all the changes in our schools. Being a band director makes the difficulties of my husband’s teaching career even worse. Budget cuts and talk of cutting art and music out of the schools is an added worry to the everyday problems. He has to all but donate his free time for extra rehearsals and the three weeks of must-have summer band camp he needs to provide to have a superior band program.
Students have to be held accountable for their grades, and after-school marching/concert rehearsals are equal to homework assignments in other classes. When the end of semester arrives and a student is almost failing, the parents hit the roof – not caring that “Billy” skipped six after school rehearsals, and that all the times the parents pulled him early from rehearsals because of other family obligations or an inconvenient time schedule lowered their child’s grade.
A teacher is always under scrutiny for every action, has all the added pressure from parents, and not all administrators back their teachers up. It’s each teacher for him or herself.
When not teaching a class they have him running from room to room subbing for absent teachers. Factor into that the useless workshops, Professional Development, faculty meetings, teacher workdays, unhappy parent meetings, and numerous half-day schedules – and all of these combine to prohibit holding rehearsals. This hectic schedule has left him no time in his office to get paperwork done for his band program and mandatory football games, marching contests, concerts, etc. With all this chaos, he’s still expected by the administrators to have a superior band and bring home the trophies.
I know how much he loves his job, but with all the changes that have occurred in the past few years it makes his teaching a hardship now instead of the joy it once was. With his retirement in the near future, he just keeps teaching, smiling, and plugging along trying not to let it all get the best of him, but I can see the pressure rising.