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#390318 - 03/10/04 01:49 AM sad postscript to losing my choral music program  
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,650
Emily Sanders Offline
Top 100 Poster
Emily Sanders  Offline
Top 100 Poster

Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,650
Santa Monica, CA
Hi, Everyone,

A while back I posted something about my elementary choral music program being cut;
here is an update:

For fifteen years, I taught elementary choral/general music...so I was quite sad to find out that the program was cut for the fall.

I work for an affluent school district, where the PTA's and Education Foundation raise LOTS of $$...BUT....the district has a NEW policy which states that they don't want donations with strings attached. They want control of every dollar that comes in...

What they are doing is saying that they will only reinstate programs like mine if the money is donated up front for three years in advance, AND, the program would have to be high on the district's priority list, which it isn't.

Ironically, MANY parents want to donate money to save my program, but the district
wants to "balnce the budget" by putting all the donated money in a general fund, and
then "deciding" which programs are first on the list..

Last year, before this policy came into place, some close friends of mine donated $25,000 to the Education Foundation to save my program!!! This generous act helped to inspire a record breaking amount of money in fundraising...over a million dollars...I think people will donate less money of they know that they have no say where it goes..

Now, back to my individual situation:
I always thought that my seniority and multiple teaching credentials would protect me in times like this; I am appalled that
they really don't.

Believing that my program would not be reinstated for the 2004-2005 school year, I requested that I be able to "bump" the middle school choral teacher - who I have 12 years of seniority over.

I was told that I couldn't be guaranteed the posiiton because I have an Elementary
Credential as well- and the DISTRICT HAS THE RIGHT TO PLACE ME WHEREVER THEY NEED A TEACHER.
Even though I have NEVER taught in an elementary classroom ( but have taught music for 25 years) it is probable that they'll place me in an elementary classrrom for the fall of 2004. If I bump a music teacher, it will cause a few other music teachers to be bumped and the district doesn't want to disrupt any programs.

I haven't gotten the official notice, But everyone I have talked to agrees that this will happen.

According to the teachers union rep,
even though I have more seniority than all the other music teachers in the district,
I probably will not be given a music teaching job for the fall - Here's why:

A a tenured employee, I am guaranteed a job, that's all. The district will claim that they "need" me to fill an opening in the elementary classroom....and they can legally do just that.

I earned the elementary credential back in 1990-to improve my music teaching skills,
and to have in case ALL music programs were cut. This case is unique- because there are two choral music teachers in the district that I have considerable seniority over - but I won't be allowed to bump them...
It seems so unfair...

This is a double loss - I have already lost my program, and now I will lose my livelihood and my dream.

I was the only music teacher in the elementary level for many years, and helped build what our district has now, piece by piece.

In the coming fall, every other music teacher and music program in the district will remain intact, while the music teacher with the most seniority --myself---will be the ONLY music teacher in the district NOT teaching music.

I really could use some cheering up...

Emily Sanders

[This message has been edited by Emily Sanders (edited 03-09-2004).]

[This message has been edited by Emily Sanders (edited 03-10-2004).]

#390319 - 03/10/04 02:36 AM Re: sad postscript to losing my choral music program  
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 13,618
Graham Henderson (D) Offline
Graham Henderson (D)  Offline

Top 10 Poster

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 13,618
Esperance. West Australia
Sounds like the absolute pits to me Emily.
Gota wonder who the heck taght the decision makeres priorities n and a sense of right in your area.
If they in fact ever learned anythoing from life at all.
Sad for you and the kids. And long term. For all of us.
Graham

------------------
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/2/grahamhendersonmusic.htm

#390320 - 03/10/04 05:49 AM Re: sad postscript to losing my choral music program  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Mike Dunbar Offline
Mike Dunbar  Offline


JPF Mentor

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Nashville Tennessee
Emily,

This is why I'm a libertarian. Our rights and our ability to solve problems with common sense have been squeezed out of us by the right and the left (goofy names, as if they are the ONLY points of view). Well, so much for politics.

How are you doing? You deserve a real blessing. Someone who has spent as much time doing such good, only to be insulted by a bunch of bean counters and politicos who never taught one kid anything worthwhile, ought to have a real boon in their lives. I pray that you do.

Want to put it all in perspective? Go and see "the Passion of the Christ" on me. Send me the ticket stub and I'll send you a check for the price of admission. Just email me, and I'll send you my mailing address.

Your story is a classic example of adding insult to injury...on top of stupidity. The real losers, unfortunately, are the children. Well, they can't vote or pay taxes, so screw them, I guess.

Well, my mother used to tell me, "Smile, things could be worse." So I'd smile, and, sure enough, things would get worse.

All the Best,
Mike

------------------
Mike Dunbar Music


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#390321 - 03/10/04 12:51 PM Re: sad postscript to losing my choral music program  
Joined: Sep 2001
Posts: 10,330
Jean Bullock Offline
Jean Bullock  Offline

Top 10 Poster

Joined: Sep 2001
Posts: 10,330
Anaheim, CA, USA
Emily, if you do end up teaching a regular class, see if you can get a Fourth Grade teaching position. Fourth Grade is terrific. The kids still like to sing and you would be able to integrate a lot of music into the curriculum. When the powers that be see what you can do, who knows what that may lead to. Good luck to you.

JeanB


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#390322 - 03/13/04 08:02 PM Re: sad postscript to losing my choral music program  
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,650
Emily Sanders Offline
Top 100 Poster
Emily Sanders  Offline
Top 100 Poster

Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,650
Santa Monica, CA
Graham, Mike and Jean,

Thank you so much for your kind responses and for your support; it means a lot to me.

Yesterday I got official notification that I am being reassigned to an elementary classroom in the fall.

It's unlikely that I will ever be given a music position in the district again, because, IMO, they will hire a younger cheaper teacher when -and if - the time comes...

Emily

#390323 - 03/14/04 08:13 AM Re: sad postscript to losing my choral music program  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,248
Brian Austin Whitney Offline
Brian Austin Whitney  Offline


Top 10 Poster

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,248
Indianapolis, IN USA
Emily,

It's really sad the teachers union hasn't come to your aid. What is their purpose if not to intercede on something like this? Have you considered the media? Or a politician running for office? How about Gov. Arnold? Doesn't he support educating children? How about some of the mega music stars? Or how about VHI "Save the Music"? How much more of an obvious case do they need to help out?

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#390324 - 03/14/04 03:42 PM Re: sad postscript to losing my choral music program  
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,650
Emily Sanders Offline
Top 100 Poster
Emily Sanders  Offline
Top 100 Poster

Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,650
Santa Monica, CA
Brian,

Thank you for your concern -

The union has come to my aid...but..
unfortunately, since I have that extra credential, the district has the legal right to place any teacher where they are "qualified" to teach....and even though I have never taught in the elementary classroom, I am technically qualified to do it because I have the credential.
I have been in close contact with the union, and they have accompanied me to all of my meetings. Sadly, the contract can't do more than guaranteee I have a job for the fall. I am, however, reading it right now - and may contact the California Teachers Association for more support.

Yes, I have considered the media...
but feel that I must be careful because it would most likely backfire on me. The community where I work tends to get a lot of neagative publicity in the local papers, and I would like to avoid that...It's a complex situation..and I cannot share some of the other reasons for being cautious here on this board. Email me if you wnat more information-

Emily

[This message has been edited by Emily Sanders (edited 03-14-2004).]

[This message has been edited by Emily Sanders (edited 03-14-2004).]

[This message has been edited by Emily Sanders (edited 03-15-2004).]

#390325 - 03/16/04 05:12 PM Re: sad postscript to losing my choral music program  
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 273
John Scott Offline
Serious Contributor
John Scott  Offline
Serious Contributor

Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 273
Nashville, Tennessee
Emily,

It saddens me to hear about your situation. Both my parents were public school teachers and my Mom even made it to Principal before she retired. It is amazing the BS that goes on in that setting. I'm sorry to hear you are on the wrong end of this BS stick.

------------------
John

http://www.johnkscott.com

#390326 - 03/17/04 12:02 AM Re: sad postscript to losing my choral music program  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,248
Brian Austin Whitney Offline
Brian Austin Whitney  Offline


Top 10 Poster

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,248
Indianapolis, IN USA
Emily,

You certainly shouldn't post anything here you aren't comfortable with. I think discussing the topic is important because you aren't alone.. you just happen to be one of us. This is happening all over the place.

I think it's particularly disturbing that the school doesn't have the best interests of their students in mind. I think if they use a contractual loophole to force someone to teach a subject that isn't their true area of expertise, that the whole system is failing the kids (including the contract that the Union agreed to.. which is protecting your job (good), but not neccessarily the education of the students (not so good)..and that seems ironic to me).

My hope would be that two entities (the union and the school system) would both be able to put common sense into play and say what is our #1 goal: Offer the best education to our students possible and how can we handle this situation to ensure that?

Questions I would have for the school district: What factual basis do they have to show that a music education isn't as critical as other programs that still exist? Does the research out there support that conclusion? How are the best interests of education served by not having the best teacher for the job teach kids in their subject of expertise? Do the remaining music teachers have better suited abilities to teach outside of music than you? (And this is important. If one of the others could do a better job teachning a non music subject, then they should be moved and you should remain in the music program.)

I don't expect you to answer these (for obvious reasons), but rather I am putting them out there for others to comment on.

It's really sad that educators can't use their brains to make a decision, but instead mindlessly follow a contractual document regardless of whether common sense and wisdom indicate otherwise.

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#390327 - 03/17/04 01:14 AM Re: sad postscript to losing my choral music program  
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,650
Emily Sanders Offline
Top 100 Poster
Emily Sanders  Offline
Top 100 Poster

Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,650
Santa Monica, CA
John,

Thank you for your kind words...I really appreciate the support. It has been a very difficult time...I am trying to maintain a positive attitude...will keep you posted.
Thanks again -

Emily

#390328 - 03/17/04 01:39 AM Re: sad postscript to losing my choral music program  
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,650
Emily Sanders Offline
Top 100 Poster
Emily Sanders  Offline
Top 100 Poster

Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,650
Santa Monica, CA
Brian,

Thank you so much for your response...

Here are a few more details about my situation:

The district decided to fund elementary music instrumental music over my program.
In our district, the kids in grades 3-5 can elect to take a weekly class in instrumental music. This program impacts a sub-set of kids -

BUT, my program services EVERY student in grades 1-5 (There were two music teachers-including me - that taught the elementary choral music program.)

Many parents would have gladly paid extra money for their kids to take instrumental music after school, but it was decided years ago that the instrumental msuic program would be held during school...the kids not enrolled in it would stay in the class and do a "general music" lesson with their classroom teacher. Most etachers didn't do much music; they used the time for other things.

Also, in regards to the contract and Ed. Code, the district's legal right to put me in a position I am qualified for is defined with my "Credential", even though, as I have stated earlier, I have NEVER taught in an elementary classroom.

I am the only music teacher with two credentials - that is why they did this to me - because they COULD...and it is all legal- not MORAL, but legal, IMO.

They claimed that I was best qualified to teach in the elementary classroom, because I have taught music to kids that age...but
I think that teaching music to middle school age students is completely in my range of qualifications, while the other is not...

Additionally, the middle school choral director and the high school choral director only have music teaching credentials, so they couldn't teach anything else.

Emily

[This message has been edited by Emily Sanders (edited 03-20-2004).]

#390329 - 03/17/04 02:24 AM Re: sad postscript to losing my choral music program  
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,650
Emily Sanders Offline
Top 100 Poster
Emily Sanders  Offline
Top 100 Poster

Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,650
Santa Monica, CA
Other thoughts:

People tend to take things for granted that they are used to;
my program has been so strong for so long...

To save money, district now hire brand new teachers with no experience because they are cheaper...and that is why I seriously doubt that I will ever teach music there again - they will hire a new teacher when and if an opening in music comes up.

Public school teachers -who have been in one district for a long time- can't transfer seniority ( $$$ ) - most districts will only give an experienced teacher a few years of seniority...

Remember Joni Mitchell's words, "Don't it always seem to go you don't know what you;ve got 'til it's gone..."

Thanks for listening, everyone.
It's nice to know you guys care ! [Linked Image]

Emily

[This message has been edited by Emily Sanders (edited 03-18-2004).]

[This message has been edited by Emily Sanders (edited 03-20-2004).]

#390330 - 04/18/04 05:40 PM Re: sad postscript to losing my choral music program  
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,650
Emily Sanders Offline
Top 100 Poster
Emily Sanders  Offline
Top 100 Poster

Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,650
Santa Monica, CA
Hi, Everyone,

Here is the text from a recent article in the Beach Reporter ( 4-15-04) that I wanted to share with you.

FYI - MANY people - teachers, parents, students and community members are working to save this program.
I'll keep you posted...
Thank you for your support! [Linked Image]

Emily

Elementary Choral Program sings goodbye (4/15)

By Cindy Yoshiyama
As the fifth-graders from Pacific Elementary School proudly sang "Dansi Na Kuimba" in Swahili during their spring concert April 2, choral music instructor Emily Sanders and her students knew this would be the last.

After 15 years with the Manhattan Beach School District, Sanders will no longer be teaching her craft to elementary school children because the program she helped to build from the ground up was cut for this fall.

Pacific was the second of the five elementary schools to put on its last performance in front of friends, family and loved ones. Robinson, Pennekamp and Meadows will all have their final concerts by the end of May.

Manhattan Beach Unified may have been one of the few remaining school districts in the state to hold on to its choral music program at the elementary school level, but massive budget cuts earlier this year cut it short.

Next year will mark the first year in the program's history that it will no longer be offered through the district.

"Any program that is lost is a loss to us and we're going to miss it," said Pennekamp Principal Dale Keldrauk. "What's paramount is we have a balanced budget. Choral music was one of those things that was somewhat unique to Manhattan Beach. Most school districts don't have a vocal music program. We were fortunate enough to have it."

In recent years, the elementary choral music program has been subsidized by the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation. However, a recent policy change does not allow donations to be earmarked for one specific program. An estimated 2,300 elementary school students from first grade through fifth grade are currently going through the program.

When Sanders was hired in 1988, MBUSD had no classroom music program and only an occasional sing-along. With the help of three parent volunteers -- Heather Gold, Laurie Draper and Stephen Wagner -- Sanders developed a series of choral music curriculum guides to meet state and national standards.

Now, students are taught harmonies, note-reading, music theory and repeated patterns called ostinatos as well as music from other cultures.

The goal has been to teach students at a young age an appreciation for music. Without the elementary program, Sanders said it will be more difficult to get kids interested in music at a later age.

"This foundation we built helped develop and fortify the middle school program because it got the kids excited about music," Sanders said. "High school kids have come back to me and said they discovered music in elementary school. It's an age when children are open to learning about musical schools. That's my concern, that we're not going to have the same foundation."

Sanders added that teaching children about the history of music -- including spirituals, blues, jazz and hip-hop -- also gives them a broader outlook on life.

"What it does is it opens them up to learning about the world so they can say, 'That's interesting and different,' and that the world is a much bigger place. It's quite sad to see that after 15 years, this program is coming to a close. It's heartbreaking for me and for the kids."

Tamara Walker-Panzarella, whose daughter, Natalia, is a first-grader at Pacific, said she is trying to spearhead a donation drive with the help of the Education Foundation.

"The arts are what take us to the next level," Panzarella said. 'To me the resources are here to save the program. We just need to come up with a plan. My daughter comes home saying, 'Why are we losing music, Mom?' and I say 'We're doing what we can.' She loves going to choir, and the winter and spring sing. She just loves to sing."

Pacific Principal Christine Norvell said she is still crossing her fingers that more donations will come forward to subsidize the program in the fall.

"I'm the eternal optimist," she said. "I'm hoping they'll find the funding for the program. The foundation has a difficult decision to make."


[This message has been edited by Emily Sanders (edited 04-18-2004).]

#390331 - 06/24/04 01:20 AM Re: sad postscript to losing my choral music program  
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,650
Emily Sanders Offline
Top 100 Poster
Emily Sanders  Offline
Top 100 Poster

Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,650
Santa Monica, CA
Hi, Everyone --

Here's my update as of June 2004:

For the first time in 26 years, I will not be teaching music in the fall.

I will be teaching Kindergarten.
I will have a class of 20 students.
Since I am a permanent employee, the district has to give me a job. For the same money, they could have had me teaching music to hundreds of kids districtwide....

Even though there are people and organizations that would gladly fund my program, the district has a new policy that it wll not accept "directed" donations anymore--they have a list of their priorities.

Sadly, I have no legal right to my former position--even if it is reinstated; the district could hire a younger, cheaper teacher...I hope that doesn't happen.

I am trying to stay grateful that I even have a job- many California etachers were laid off this year...

But I am quite sad about this turn of events.

This trend of cutting choral/general music programs at the elementary level is ironic in my district, because this year, the middle and high school choirs have won numerous important awards and honors.

Ask any accomplished high school/college musician WHEN they became interested in music --
Most will say they discovered it in elementary school.

::sigh::::

Emily

[This message has been edited by Emily Sanders (edited 06-23-2004).]

#390332 - 06/24/04 05:21 AM Re: sad postscript to losing my choral music program  
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 823
Jean Larson Offline
Serious Contributor
Jean Larson  Offline
Serious Contributor

Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 823
St. Louis, MO
Not only do award-winning high school musicians report getting INTERESTED in music years before, BUT, they got training, lots of them only at school. When the elementary music programs get cut, the level of musicianship at the middle and high school levels goes down the tubes. You can't have a great high school choir if the incoming freshmen have never had music class or any "group" musical training or experience. I watched it happen in the district where I grew up. They started cutting at the elementary level, and the high school choir's level of excellent went down and down and down. Same thing with the high school symphonic band, marching band, and jazz band. Used to be champions, now it's lame, and lots of kids are missing out. It is extremely sad. Hate to see that happening where you are, too. Haven't these people read the studies showing how music education positively affects learning and performance in a variety of other subject areas? Not only that, but music is an integral part of our lives. It's human to want to MAKE music, not just listen to it. Music teachers expose their students to a wide variety of musical styles, teach them things they would never learn on their own, and INSPIRE and ENCOURAGE them to achieve and grow as musicians and as people. I thought this was captured in the movie "Mr. Holland's Opus." Remember the red-headed girl who struggled in music, and how she turned out? Didn't your adminitrators or school board even see that movie? What is wrong with them??!! Sorry, I know you've already been down this road. I will keep praying for something better to develop. Meantime, I'll bet your kindergarten class is going to get better-than-average music time this coming year! Lucky for them!! --Jean

[This message has been edited by JL (edited 06-24-2004).]

#390333 - 06/24/04 02:16 PM Re: sad postscript to losing my choral music program  
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,650
Emily Sanders Offline
Top 100 Poster
Emily Sanders  Offline
Top 100 Poster

Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,650
Santa Monica, CA
Dear Jean,

You said it better than I ever could have - THANKS!
The consequences of eliminating elementary music are far reaching.. I couldn't sgree more that the high quality of a high school- and middle school- music program is DIRECTLY connected to the quality of instruction in elementary school...

I deeply appreciate your support and your kind words. I take comfort in knowing that I have made a difference for the thousands of students I taught music to over the years.

Thanks again for standing up for what's right!!! [Linked Image]

Emily

[This message has been edited by Emily Sanders (edited 06-24-2004).]

#390334 - 06/29/04 06:49 AM Re: sad postscript to losing my choral music program  
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 823
Jean Larson Offline
Serious Contributor
Jean Larson  Offline
Serious Contributor

Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 823
St. Louis, MO
You're welcome!

You should feel VERY good about all the lives you've touched and the huge positive impact you've had on the world through your teaching.

I hope this turns around, and I will speak up whenever I get the chance, but I also wish you the best in reaching your new students in whatever way you are able--It's obvious you are a dedicated and caring teacher, and I'm sure you will be good for your students! More power to you! --Jean


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