My whole family loves music and we are so grateful for the excellent music education our daughter is getting in Howard County. So I was surprised to learn that the new elementary school, Duckett's Lane, has been piloting a new scheduling model that it is being expanded to five more schools next year. I went to last night's meeting of Howard County Parents for School Music to learn more.
In order to introduce Departmentalization and World Language Instruction at the Elementary level, the following changes will be made:
1. Kindergarten-2nd grade general music will be cut by 15 minutes per week, a 25% reduction in instructional time. This also will apply to art classes.
2. 3rd-5th grade general music will be cut by 30 minutes per week, a 50% reduction in instructional time.
3. Small group instrumental instruction (known as pull-outs) will be terminated. All sessions will be large group.
I want to make this as concise as I can.
- Data presented on Duckett's Lane model: None (still in first year)
- Data presented about new program: None (no official announcement to stakeholders)
- Data presented on how reduction of music and art affects students: None
- Input sought from the Instructional Facilitator of Music in Howard County: None
- Input Sought from affected principals: None
- Input sought from Music and Art Teachers: None
- Input sought from parents: None
These changes will affect every student in the targeted schools. They reduce Arts education and eliminate differentiated instruction for instrumental music. If this is being piloted at Duckett's Lane plus five more schools next year, what do you think will happen the year after that? And how do you think our entire Music program, throughout the County, at every level, will be affected by cuts at its foundation?
What you can do:
1. Spread the word. Tell other parents. Share this post, talk to your school PTA, join Howard County Parents for School Music. They have a Facebook Page, and you can follow them on Twitter: HoCoMusParents @hcpsm .The burden is on parents to shed light on this, since there has been no communication about these changes from the Superintendent's Office.
2. Write a letter.* Write to the Superintendent. Write to each member of the Board individually. (Write one letter; send to each individual email address) Tell them why music matters and why decisions affecting your children should be made including parents and the teachers whose professional expertise is pertinent to the decisions.
3. Go to a Board Meeting and speak in support of Music in Howard County, and in support of collaboration and communication with stakeholders. Be respectful, be brief, and be determined.
Whether your child is in Elementary, Middle or High School, this decision affects them and you. It impacts Arts education in the short and long term, and it sets a precedent for top-down changes without involvement from stakeholders.
Please speak out for your child and for all of our children.
*Check back later today for individual email addresses for all Board of Education members. They do not appear on the Board webpage.
Student Member: firstname.lastname@example.org