Wednesday, November 14, 2018

No Music at Brandeis! No Soccer at Roosevelt! The Crime Against NYC Student of Color!


Yesterday, a Fordham alum named Michael Campanelli, a Guidance Counselor at the High School For Green Careers, took three of his students to sit in on two of my classes. In the course of class discussion, his students revealed an astonishing fact- that none of the four high schools in the building their school is located in, which was once Brandeis High School, offers music to its students! There are no bands, no orchestras and no music classes, even though there are hundreds of musical instruments in the building left over from the time when Brandeis HS had a great music program
I found this as depressing as it is appalling. In a city which continues to showcase and produce some of the world's best music, you have four schools, located in the heart of the Upper West Side, which offers NO MUSIC AT ALL to nearly 2000 high school students, virtually all of whom are students of color from working class immigrant families
But it is not just in the arts where criminal neglect of students take place. It is also in sports. The schools at Roosevelt HS, heavily drawing upon students from soccer loving countries in Africa and South and Central America, have no soccer teams. Worse yet, when one of the schools at Roosevelt, Kappa International, tried to create a soccer team, they were unable to get field space for this from Fordham.
As someone who came from a working class family and attended public schools in New York City in the 1950's and 60's, I find this even more reprehensible. During my junior high school and high school years, I played on school teams and was a saxophonist in school bands, even taking my instrument home with me on buses and subways
. That students today lack the opportunities that I, and my counterparts in the Bronx, had when we were growing up filled me with despair. The great sports and music programs that were shut down in the City Fiscal Crisis of the late 1970's were never restored in most of the city's schools, especially those serving immigrant children and children of color.
It's time we brought them back NOW!
What i propose is that the budget for testing be cut in half, most standardized tests eliminated, and that the funds saved be used to bring back the music and bring back the sports,
Our schools and our children will be a lot better off with less testing and more creativity!

2 comments:

Chris Owen said...

Bravo to the report and the suggestion that funding be shifted from testing to the arts and sports. It is indeed appalling that schools are doing without what should be considered as basic as reading, writing and 'rithmetic. Aside from the "mere" joy factor that energizes all of us, studies have demonstrated that students do better academically when there is music and art in their school day. And it shouldn't depend on affluent parents of individual schools contributing to such offerings.

I've been appalled too, learning more details about the high schools as my older grandson searches for the right place to go. He wants math and coding, he wants music, he wants a chance to move his body - and it turns out that even at some fine schools, he can't have all of these. People say, "Well, you need to have a big school to offer all that." NO! We need properly funded schools and we need people who have the right vision.

Hey, maybe the guy with a Brooklyn accent should take over the system!

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