September 15th, 2010 | Published in News
Mickey Toft, assistant principal for curriculum and instruction at Tigard High School, empathized with those who put together master schedules and budgets. “It’s always difficult to cut because you have to take into account what it impacts, how the community is affected. And so, when school districts make those decisions, hopefully they are well thought out,” he said.
About four years ago a ceramics art program was dropped because there was a principal “who didn’t see a value in it,” he said. That class has been reinstated, and Tigard has not had to reduce its performing and visual arts programs … so far, he added. He said that elementary schools were hit harder by the music and arts cuts than middle and high schools.
Scott Overton, father of twins Patrick and Thomas, is Grant High School’s PTA president and Band Booster. “The biggest concern isn’t necessarily they’re just cutting arts; they’re under-funding education so drastically,” he said. “School districts are retreating to providing core subjects instead of special subjects, which the kids are often the most passionate about,” he said.
“I think that not having arts education for the younger ages is a bad idea,” he said. “The things kids are passionate about – whether it’s art, music, photography, choir or band – you know they’re the things to go when there’s another round of cuts.”
If there’s a sliver of a silver lining for schools it can be found in the Oregon Arts Commission, according to Deborah Vaughn, the organization’s arts education coordinator. The commission helps provide arts services in the public schools. “We have a website that lists a current pool of grantees, and it’s a starting place for schools to look into for private funding sources,” she said. “Another option is to contact one of the seven regional arts councils in the area. And districts can contact me for information,” she added. “We don’t have funding, but we can help direct people to local resources.”
Felice Mancini, executive director of The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, created by composer Michael Kamen after the movie was released, was saddened but not surprised by the state’s cuts. The foundation provides musical instruments to schools in need throughout the country.
“More than ever, the people who really care about keeping music in schools have to make noise, learn something about the benefits of music education and then tell others,” Mancini wrote in an e-mail.
Patrick Overton, the 17-year-old Grant High School trumpet player, doesn’t plan to become a professional musician, but he values the experience of being part of a band. “For me, it was always about the community, sounding well together as a group,” he said. “The thing about music is that we can produce these sounds with the human body and amplify them with musical instruments to express human emotions.”
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