Editor’s Note: This Open Letter came to me by way of a music teacher friend of mine. My friend’s claim that unemployment is a very real possibility in the near future is not over-stated. My family has spent time with my friend’s family – their kid plays with my kid. We’ve gone to the Please Touch Museum together. They’ve come to fundraisers my wife and I have held for a local food kitchen. And as personal this letter is for me and my friend, this Open Letter could have come from dozens of School Districts across Pennsylvania. My friend walks a line – along side hundreds of PA music and arts teachers – of publicly speaking out while being concerned about their future job prospects. We decided to publish my friend’s letter under the name “Music Teacher” to underscore how this personal appeal is being repeated in every School District in PA.
Dear Pittsburgh Opera,
Is this true??? Is it true what I read in this article about the Pittsburgh Opera honoring Governor Corbett for recognizing, “…the economic, educational, and social value of the arts?” At first, I thought this article was a hoax, but now I am appalled.
Let me explain something. I have been a music teacher since 1998, and for the past eleven years I have dedicated myself to the my School District as the band and orchestra teacher for two elementary schools. I also did my fair share of teaching general music during that time. Last night, I sat for over 6 hours and joined fellow District taxpayers and teachers, as we spoke out on the district’s unforgivable proposal to cut all related arts from the elementary schools.
As a taxpayer, I sat for several hours waiting for my turn to speak. After 11 years of service, I had 3 minutes to make a statement. That’s all…3 minutes. Over six hours of sitting until nearly 2 a.m., listening to over 60 speakers from the community. After all of that, we were devastated to hear members of the school board vote in favor of the proposal on a 5-3 vote, REGARDLESS of the opposition from the community.
My School District has been known for our music and arts programs for decades! Being here, I believed I was in the best district to be for the arts.
Now, we are facing these cuts as a direct result of Governor Corbett’s $860 million in cuts to public education, his support of charter schools, and his reluctance to send financial assistance to schools most in need. Apparently, we are not alone, either. I will not accept the argument that the Governor does not decide where to cut. If he really was a teacher, he knows exactly where they will cut, and I believe you do, as well.
Now I join related arts teachers all across Pennsylvania, as we stare down the barrel of unemployment with the possibility of not being able to enter back into public education due to massive program cuts. I hope you will realize the obvious lie behind these statements about Governor Corbett. After getting home at 2 a.m., and rolling out this morning to face my students as if nothing is going to happen, I have to say that if the Pittsburgh Opera is in this much need for political favor, you are doing nothing to help the face of music in public education.Sincerely,
Music Teacher (maybe for a few more months)
School District parent/taxpayer