To Whom It May Concern:
I just received an email via the director of Sierra Mountain Music Camp titled "An Urgent Letter from CMEA Concerning Music Education in California." CMEA and many other similar organizations provide extremely valuable information and are directed by (obviously) very highly- educated individuals who care about the long term direction of Performing Arts Education throughout America, BUT who do not realize that one cannot effectively negotiate with Government politicians and educational bureaucrats without leverage. On a percentage basis, how many students today are enrolled in the Performing Arts Programs in California public schools compared to 6 years ago? At least in Yuba and Sutter Counties, much fewer!
There is a point where information ( however detailed and well-intended) is worthless in striving to acquire a goal-where EVERY enrolled child in America has the opportunity to academically explore one or more of the Performing Arts starting in 3rd grade DURING the curriculum day. < In China, whose academic and technical educational improvements over the past 2 decades are very well recognized, mandatory piano, accordion or violin lessons are government-sponsored at age 3.>
As a 28 year veteran of the music retail and service industry, I have been in conflict with the local school board Trustees and Administrators for at least 15 years over the above subject. I have found that in any serious negotiation, a lack of leverage is not advantageous----BEGGING falls on deaf ears! ! I have also learned that those students involved in the Performing Arts occupy the top 10% of the student body in not only grades, SAT scores in their junior and senior high school years, but most appropriately for this issue, they are also the top performers on the NCLB tests.
The information that CMEA or other similar organizations distribute concerning the latest financial strategies of State and Federal Bureaucrats and Politicians is only that-informative. It does little or nothing for Jose who speaks limited English in XX Unified SD and is denied the opportunity to play the trumpet in the school band because he is forced to take an extra period of English each school day. It is time to ask the parents for support through a strong public relations campaign via the internet and TV.
What would happen to the funding for every California School District that is denying minimum Performing Arts opportunities to their students by 3rd grade in the estimation of the informed parents, if a majority of those parents waived their children OUT of the STAR test? Even the hint of such a promotion makes the most-hardened NCLB Advocate stammer!!!
There is your leverage-use it or keep begging!
Peter Van Alstyne
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