Next Steps: Budget Cuts & MBUSD Music Program Advocacy - Letter to Parents
April 8, 2020
Hello Parents and Supporters of the MBUSD Music Program,
Thank you to all of you who were able to be a part of the various teleconference calls with Dr. Benham. It was wonderful to have over 200 people join the Town Hall on Saturday. By now, you should have received Dr. Benham's report (Click here to review). If you weren't able to participate on the calls, please continue reading this message and consider being part of our advocacy effort to help reinstate the recent cuts which have been made to our district's music program.
The report has been sent to every School Board member, as well as the senior members of the administration and all school principals. It is supposed to be an agenda item at the April 15th board meeting. However, until the Agenda is published (it normally should be available by Friday or over the weekend at the latest), we won't know for certain.
Public Comment Letters Needed for 4/15 Board Meeting
The next step in our advocacy effort is for as many people as possible to submit public comments at the April 15th board meeting. As soon as the agenda for this meeting is published, we will forward it to you, as well as the link for submitting your public comments.
As it relates to your public comment, the following are a few general guidelines:
· While there is no minimum length, your submission should be no longer than 400 words. Succinct letters might have a greater impact.
· The form will ask you to input the agenda item to which your letter refers (assuming this issue is on the agenda). Please make sure that you include the agenda number.
· The deadline to submit your letter is normally 1 hour before the meeting. However, please submit as soon as practical and, ideally, by noon on the day of the meeting (4/15).
· Please do not include any negative comments levied toward any board members, administrators, teachers or other programs. The focus of your letter should be constructive and reflect the positives of the music program (see below). As Dr. Benham reminded all of us, and which is included in his report, a strong music program also strengthens other programs. Its strength does not need to come at the expense of any other program.
Public Comment Letter Template
Some of you have asked for some guidance in writing your public comment letter. The following are some guidelines to assist you:
Paragraph 1: State who you are and your connection to the music program (Student, Parent, Former Student or Parent, or Community Supporter). Please use the umbrella term "music" rather than band, choir, or orchestra in this opening section because it is consistent with our unified approach.
Paragraph 2: Share your personal experiences with the music program. These include:
· How have you or your child benefitted from the music program (personal growth, development, academically, social wellness, college applications)?
· Have you or your child learned better time management skills that have helped you in other areas of your life?
· Have the benefits derived from the music program helped you/your child in other areas of his/her/their life?
Please be as authentic as possible. It is important to bring your own unique voice, experience, and perspective to the board! We encourage each individual to speak up by submitting their own public comment. A parent's reasons for valuing the program are often different from a student's. It is our hope that all interested voices will be shared and heard. In this paragraph, it is certainly appropriate to name the specific music program(s) you have experience in (band, choir, or orchestra).
Describe your "call to action" for the board. In this paragraph, please let the board know how you would like them to proceed. As was mentioned in the report, as well as during the Town Hall, we will be asking for the Board to form a Task Force to study all issues raised in Dr. Benham's Report in greater depth, including, but not limited to:
· Analyze the costs/benefits of the music program from an academic, financial, and social wellness standpoint.
· Analyze all of the issues raised in Dr. Benham's report.
· Make recommendations to reinforce the music program's status as a core curriculum program beginning at the elementary school level and continuing through the high school level, rather than, as it appears to be treated now, simply an extra curricular class on par with the wheel.
· That the school board and administration rescind, or at least put on hold, its actions approving any reductions in the music curriculum until this Task Force can make its recommendations to the Board.
· And that all stakeholders, including parents and teachers, be included on the Task Force, representing all music programs at all grade levels.
Thank you for your continued support of the Manhattan Beach Music Program!
The MBUSD Music Parent Coalition
MBUSD Music Program Cuts - Student Letter
April 7, 2020
The message below was written by a student and is directed specifically to students. Please share with your student if they are interested in writing letters to the MBUSD School Board regarding recent cuts to the district music program. And please be on the lookout for a separate message which will be distributed soon for parents.
Please note: Students should identify themselves in their letters as MUSIC students. They definitely can share their experiences in choir, band, or orchestra, but we really want to represent ourselves as a single unified voice for the entire MBUSD music program.
Here are some notes I took on the student meeting this morning with Dr. John Benham regarding how to write letters to the school board about the cuts they've made to the MBUSD music program. Please take the time to write a letter and help try to save our music program!
1) Talk about what the music program has meant to you and how important it has been to you.
2) Talk about the importance of small classes/ensembles.
3) Talk about your disappointment if the music program is cut and how it will affect everyone. Focus especially on what skills you learn in music classes that transfer to other classes and what intellectual and academic habits you form as a result of being in music.
3) Don't attack anyone.
4) Get younger siblings to write letters, even if they're not in the music program yet, to let them know how much they want to take music (choir, band, orchestra) when they get to middle school or high school and how disappointed they'll be if they can't.
5) Watch the school board meeting livestream on April 15th, and get your parents to watch it, too. (This link isn't available yet. Please check back at www.mbusd.org and click on "Board" to see instructions on how to view the link when it's available. The link to the April 15th board meeting also will be distributed to everyone as soon as it's available.)
6) Letters need to be submitted by April 14.
7) Don't make phone calls to any board members.
8) Limit comments to 400 words or less! Your letter doesn't have to to be that long, and sometimes fewer words can be more effective. You can make it shorter or longer, whatever works best for you, but no more than 400 words!!
9) Be creative--talk about how excited you were to go on the different music department trips (for example, the choir trip to Italy or the band trip to Washington, D.C.) and how disappointing it will be if those can never happen again, or talk about the new band video or Mr. Hayden's choir podcast about the Italy trip, etc. (would be a good idea to send links to the band video and the choir podcast about the Italy trip).
10) Submit your letter as a public comment to be read at the April 15th school board meeting. (The link to submit public comments isn't available yet. Please check back at www.mbusd.org and click on "Board" to follow the link to send your letter as a public comment to the board. The link also will be distributed to everyone as soon as it's available.) THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. PLEASE BE SURE TO SUBMIT YOUR LETTER AS A PUBLIC COMMENT AS SOON AS THE LINK IS AVAILABLE SO IT CAN BE READ AT THE APRIL 15TH BOARD MEETING!!! THANK YOU!
Please Read: National Music Expert's Report on Budget Cuts & the MBUSD Music Program
Dear MBUSD Music Families and Friends,
We value and are grateful for your support of our music program over the years. As you have heard, the current district budget cuts are threatening the viability of our music program.
As you know, Dr. John Benham, a national music education expert, was recently brought in to examine these budget cuts, assess the status of the MBUSD music program, and propose clear, proven solutions to the current issues.
This report provides data-supported and research-driven, in-depth evaluation and analysis of the MBUSD music program, and it highlights important issues in the program, along with strategic and structural recommendations. It is our goal to collaboratively resolve these issues in partnership with the District Administration and the School Board.
We hope you will review this report and help champion the unified efforts of choir, band and orchestra families to save and strengthen our music program for all our students, families, and the wider community. This report also will be made available on the Mira Costa Band, Choir, and Orchestra Boosters websites, as well as www.manhattanbeachmusic.org.
We will be in touch again later this evening with information on the upcoming April 15th School Board meeting and how you can voice your concerns and support by submitting public comments in advance and also attending the online School Board meeting on the 15th.