Superintendent Art Rainwater proposes (2005-2006 Budget Discussion Items)to cut another $1 million in elementary music and art education once again this year without any prior curriculum review and assessment of impact on children’s learning and achievement – that would have involved teachers and the community.
MADISON SCHOOL BOARD CONTINUES TO IGNORE CHILDREN’S, PARENTS’, TEACHERS’ AND THE COMMUNITY’S REQUEST TO WORK TOGETHER TO EXPLORE ALTERNATIVE FINANCING STRATEGIES FOR FINE ARTS EVEN AS STUDIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY ARE SHOWING THE POSITIVE IMPACTS ON ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT FOR LOW INCOME CHILDREN WHO HAVE A STRONG MUSIC, ART AND INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC INSTRUCTION IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.
NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND IDENTIFIES FINE ARTS AS CORE CURRICULUM – IMPORTANT TO STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT, STUDENT INTEREST IN LEARNING AND IMPROVEMENT IN CHILDREN’S CREATIVITY.
Here’s the Information:
Superintendent’s Proposed Fine Arts Cuts – Released to MMSD Board of Education yesterday:
Eliminate elementary strings curriculum 9.8 FTEs $496,860
Double up Special classes in Grade 1 5-7.5 FTEs $253,500-$380,250
Total Impact on Fine Arts Curriculum 14.8-17.3 FTEs $750,367-$877,110
plus another $100,000 in instrument purchase and repair budget.
Total existing k-12 Fine Arts budget approximately $7 million which is 2% of the total budget. Superintendent Art Rainwater’s proposed cut would eliminate 14% of the existing fine arts budget – 100% of the elementary string teachers who likely would be laid off as they are specialized and not easily transferred. They’re also not administrators, none of whom are at risk of layoff.
History of Holding Hostage a Community that Values Music and Art Education:
Spring 2002 – Superintendent Art Rainwater proposes to cut 4th grade elementary strings course. Community rallies – course reinstated.
Spring 2003 – – Superintendent Art Rainwater proposes to cut 4th grade string course if referendum fails unless fee imposed.
School Board approves all increases in fees if referendum fails EXCEPT the proposed fee for elementary string course.
Spring 2004 – Bill Keys explores $600 elementary string course fee, Bill Clingan proposes to cut Fine Arts Coordinator, Superintendent Rainwater increases elementary music and art section, Johnny Winston Jr. proposes $50 participation fee for elementary string course. Superintendent Rainwater cuts $70,000 instrument budget. All proposals passed.
Spring 2005 – Superintendent Art Rainwater proposes elimination of elementary strings course, elimination of string budget, elimination of instrument repair budget, doubling of class sizes for elementary music and art in grade 1.
WI statutes set parameters for skill areas, but the statutes require the local School Board to approve curriculum. Our school board does not want to approve curriculum, saying we’re not the experts. That’s true but being an expert in a specific curriculum is not needed to ask the right “board appropriate” questions and to be sure that policies are followed and procedures are put in place to protect children’s learning. Madison’s school board has no written procedures for designing, implementing, evaluating and changing curriculum. Our school board, not the Superintendent, is responsible for overseeing what our children learn and the results of that learning.
Further, rather than listenting and responding to the community’s value of fine arts education and researching the growing body of independent test results showing positive impacts on math and reading scores for low income children; our Superintendent, after another year of stonewalling requests from teachers and the community to form a working group to explore financial strategies; doesn’t think that is necessary, yet wants us to believe he has to cut $8+ million and has no choice but to make the tough decisions. Hogwash. We want him to do the tough work – keep what contributes to academic achievement, madison values and what makes children’s education worthwhile.