I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Battle for the Band

This is my first post to this blog. There will be others, and I hope I am able to articulate rationally the reasons why I post what I post.

I know that as one member of a five member board, and being in a county with an elected superintendent, my role in shaping educational policy is limited. With this in mind, I try to be attentive to what my constituents want, and recently this manifested itself as an attempt at the establishment of a new high school band program at West Florida High School. I was contacted by several parents, students, and student athletes at WFHS regarding their desire to form a band. I spoke to Superintendent Paul and his staff. I also spoke to Mrs. Morgan (the WFHS principal), and I attended meetings with the parents at WFHS. I also spoke about the program at School Board Workshops. In addition to budgetary constraints, I was surprised and shocked by the level of resistance I encountered by an unlikely source. The last people in the world that I would have suspected that would have vehemently opposed a new band being formed would be music educators. I'll just leave it this way, I had a significant disagreement with several established local school band directors on this subject. There were some heated conversations and emails. Needless to say, sometimes we must simply agree to disagree.

As it stands currently, I believe the plan for a band at WFHS is moving forward, and I continue to ask about it and will continue to do so until I see a band form at WFHS.

I recently had the opportunity to meet the National Teacher of the year for 2007, who happens to be a music educator from a rural district in Washington state. I listened to her presentation and was inspired and moved. After her lecture, I was able to speak with her, and I told her the background of the WFHS band establishment situation. I attempted, in the very limited time I had to speak to her, to be very unbiased in the way I presented the overall picture. I explained that the school that would be having a new band was a school of choice, and that if a band was established other area schools might loose some band members and potentially even some resources. I told her I respected her expertise and even tempered demeanor, and wondered what she would do if she were in my position as a board member.

Her answer (paraphrased) was to keep fighting for more music programs for as many kids as possible, regardless of whether or not everyone agrees.

I intend to follow her advice and keep fighting; I know the comprehensive value of music education.

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