CONCORD (KPIX) – Parents and students angry at a proposal to eliminate 4th grade music instruction across the district on Wednesday night staged a protest at the Mount Diablo Unified School Board meeting.
Hundreds of people gathered at Monte Gardens Elementary School in Concord before heading to district headquarters. Ten-year-old Avery Erilick spent two years learning to play the clarinet. She said cutting 4th grade music would be devastating.
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“I think it would ruin a lot of people’s lives because, like, some people don’t know what they would do if they didn’t have music in their life,” she said.
District officials say declining enrollment and rising payroll costs are creating a deficit. The district is proposing to cut current elementary music teachers in half, offering only 5th grade classes instead.
Officials say eliminating 4th grade music would save more than $500,000 each year. But Northgate High music student Tatiana Avdienko has written a thoughtful response on the benefits of music programs, saying they create lasting friendships and “enhance the abstract thinking needed to learn math and science.” .
She received a sarcastic response from board chair Debra Mason, who asked, “Are you not having class today? »
“I was very surprised. He’s a prominent member of the board — he’s the chairman of the board — and I felt rejected by his response,” Tatiana said. indicated that they were not taking this issue seriously at all.”
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Martin Lejano is leading the charge to preserve 4th grade music. The Concord High Band teacher says it’s at this early age that children develop an interest in music and learn to play an instrument. He argues that elementary school music teachers are the unsung heroes here.
“Elementary Instrument Teachers!” he said. “They know how to play every instrument and they know how to start from scratch and build your foundation. So when a kid goes to middle school, when he goes to high school, he can just play music.
Lejano said the plan would also cut out 5th grade students, as six teachers would have to serve 29 schools. He thinks the music was targeted simply because it has been in the past.
Elementary school music was reduced in 2010 and 2011, but was restored in 2015. Another attempt to eliminate it was made in 2020.
Lejano said he wants the board to understand how important music programs are in getting kids on the right track and considers them as important as math and English.
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“Absolutely,” he said. “If you care about English and math, you’ll put an instrument in the hands of children.”