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Proposal to Scorch the Earth in Toledo Public Schools

There are times when the little policy matters seems irrelevant. Who cares if a subject is declared “core” by your state department of education or USDOE?

razor_blade.jpgTake a good look at this story coming out of Toledo. It is a rather stunning example of how a school district is proposing the elimination of all certified arts and physical education teachers and justifying it by declaring that the state doesn’t deem the arts and physical education to be a core subject.

Why fight for arts education positive policies?

Your answer is in this new piece: click here to read The Toledo Blade’s Plan to Cut Teachers Draws Flak.

Eliminating all art, music, and physical
education teaching positions in Toledo’s public elementary schools
would erase more than one-third of a projected $30 million budget hole
for the school system next fiscal year, officials said yesterday.

Of course, this subject is being played out across the country, and will probably serve to be a measure as to how far we’ve come in building support for arts education.

Sometimes it is indeed a piece of policy that saves the day. In New York City, for example, there is a no lay off provision in the current teachers contract, which is expiring and in the midst of renegotiation. (The negotiation between the City of New York and the United Federation of Teachers has gone to arbitration.)

That no-lay off provision makes it difficult to simply layoff the arts and physical education teachers. It is not impossible, mind you, but difficult. In my book, that is the policy piece of the puzzle, that comes from the teachers contract, that is keeping arts teacher in place. Without it, I think you would be seeing in New York City what you are seeing in so many other parts of the country.

scorched earth.jpgAnd, to make this a truly high spirited entry for the Friday before we turn the clocks forward, consider this: many of our public schools are being helped financially by stimulus dollars that will run out. What then?

On another subject: Monday is the deadline for submissions to the USDOE’s Arts Education Model Development and Dissemination program. The last time this program was open to applicants, 14 awards were made out of approximately 74 applicants. That was two years ago. Based on conversations with colleagues, I would be willing to bet that the number of applicants to AEMDD could be five fold what it was two years ago. In the past, the complexity of the proposal and requirement of a quasi-experimental research model was a stumbling block for many prospective applicants. The economy has changed all that.


  1. David Pankratz, Creative Sector Research says:

    As a former Toledo Public Schools student and violist, who benefitted greatly from participating in school orchestras and the Toledo Youth Orchestra (whose conductor, amazingly, doubled as a chamber music coach), I’m personally saddened by this news. It’s also very perplexing from a policy perspective, and, I fear, another example of arts education advocates unprepared for policy’s frequent shifts. Toledo, as you I think you know Richard, has produced an extraordinary number of professional musicians who populate the music world in prominent positions, for example, Dennis Russell Davies. I’m going to encourage those I’m in touch with to write letters of support. Thanks for post.

  2. Hi David. You’re right. It’s a terrible proposal and I certainly know a bit about what Toldeo’s fine arts education history has produced incuding Dennis Russell Davies and my tremendous artists like my good friend, the trumpet player Terry Szor.
    Please encourage your friends to let their voices be heard with the school board.

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