Teachers Need to Unite

One of my favorite things to do is connect with other teachers on my Personal Learning Network (PLN). I talk with teachers around the world. It is not very seldom that I have the opportunity to actually meet face to face, but last week I had that opportunity. While I was in Chicago I went to Gower Middle School (GMS) and was able to meet two music teachers, Steve Pittman and Jennifer Brinkley Kolze.

Steve and I have been visiting online for awhile. He has many great ideas and is a wonderful teacher. While at GMS I had the chance to observe him working with a saxophone sectional. His job allows him to pull students out of their regular classes to have one small group or one on one rehearsals to help the students with their music. I was amazed to see how this worked. They have a regular band time (over study hall, not a scheduled time) as a large ensemble, then have individual time.

I feel that is a wonderful opportunity for students to have! They are able to improve their playing and have the chance to ask questions. The large ensemble consists of about 100 students. Young musicians can get lost in a crowd that large. They need the chance to be heard in a small group. Cudos to that school to allowing students that opportunity!

Now Mr. Pittman has not always had a job that great. He use to be in the Chicago Public Schools, but didn’t actually work for CPS. I looked at him with a confused look and asked for more information. He went on to tell me that CPS does not really provide for young band programs. Mr. Pittman worked for a private company that hires band directors to go into schools to work with individual students with music lessons. He said that he worked at seven different schools throughout the week.

The thing that stuck in my skin though was when Steve started telling me about where he held his lessons. Principals and teachers looked at him as a burden. They didn’t care about him coming in to help students. They would throw him and student into closets, cubbies, and even the bathroom to hold the lesson. So much disrespect for the arts that they couldn’t even provide a small, appropriate space.

Schools are losing their music programs. Teachers get upset when a music director wants to pull students out for rehearsals, concert practice, or contest performances. Teachers say rude things about choir and band programs that are even successful! Sometimes I can’t believe the attitudes that teachers have toward their colleagues that are improving their students.

In a time that the government and people are putting education down, we need to stick together. We as teachers need to unite together and fight the good fight. We need to show how great we are and the wonderful things that we are doing for students! Music HELPS students so much in their education. Studies have shown so many benefits to music education:

The arts are one of the six subject areas in which the College Board recognizes as essential in order to thrive in college. (Source: Academic Preparation for College: What Students Need to Know and Be Able to Do, 1983 [still in use], The College Board, New York )
The arts produce jobs, generating an estimate $37 billion with a return of $3.4 billion in federal income taxes. (Source: American Arts Alliance Fact Sheet, October 1996 )
Students taking courses in music performance and music appreciation scored higher in the SAT than students with no arts participation. Music performance students scored 53 points higher on the verbal and 39 points higher on the math. Music appreciation students scored 61 points higher on the verbal and 42 points higher on the math.(Source: 1999 College-Bound Seniors National Report: Profile of SAT Program Test Takers, The College Entrance Examination Board, Princeton, New Jersey)
Lewis Thomas, physician and biologist, found that music majors comprise the highest percentage of accepted medical students at 66%. (Source: As reported in “The Case for Music in the Schools,” Phi Delta Kappan, February 1994.)

This information was found at the Children’s Music Workshop website. Another site I found is the Texas Music Project.

According to Americans for the Arts, young people who participate in the arts for at least three hours, three days a week for at least one year are:
Four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement;
Three times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools;
Four times more likely to participate in math and science fair;
Three times more likely to win an award for school attendance; and
Four times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem.

We as teachers need to unite to stay together. If we start going against each other, especially over music, then they will find our weakness and hurt us more. We need to unite and show the benefits of music in our schools! So many of us know the benefits of music. Students in music want to work harder in our classes and succeed. Do not show students and teachers our disgruntlement.

This is our time to step up and I UNITE and show what we we do on a regular basis is going to help our world! Go out there and support all teachers in your school today! Let them know how much you appreciate what they do! Go out and show the world that teachers are important and that education cannot be hurt with budget cuts and testing anymore! Take a stand for what you believe in and your job today!

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About Anthony Purcell

I am Anthony Purcell and I am currently teaching math in Oklahoma.
This entry was posted in Band, Choir, Education, Hate, Kindness, Love, Music, Personal Learning Network, PLN, Professional Learning Network, School, Teachers, Teaching, Testing, The Arts, Unite. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Teachers Need to Unite

  1. Jennifer Bond says:

    I graduated in ’94, and just this past Oct. I was blessed enough to sing again with/for my Oxford HS choir director. He had been retired for years..already had the celebration of his career. Yet…that still wasn’t enough. The result…a secret Facebook group began last April…the group expanded…dates were set…a committee formed…and the first weekend in Oct., around 100 former students ranging in ages of 55-32 came to sing with him and honor him. Mr.Wilson created synergy…love…respect…Passion and a respecting environment…all through music. How many other teachers will have former students still wanting to celebrate their teaching years after retirement? The Arts are powerful and needed in this rigorous education kids are receiving. Unite with the Arts…they are more powerful than you can ever imagine…if you have the right people leading them.

  2. Steve Pittman says:

    It seems to be a rare occasion nowadays that one finds the ‘utopian society’ within a school that places equal emphasis on ‘core’ subjects (such as math, science, etc.), the arts, and sports. The arts certainly are losing their presence in the schools, and as they vanish, so does a students‘ chance at a well-rounded education. They also lose, to a degree, the opportunity to learn about their cultural roots and the world around them.

    I should clarify a statement made in Anthony’s post. Not all CPS schools are without young band programs, and not all are without the arts. Steps have been taken over the past few years in some Chicago neighborhood schools to bring the arts back. The parents of these neighborhoods understand the power of the arts, and value the complete education of their children. The percentage of these schools that have thriving (or any) arts programs, though, remains small. The lack of art programs (such as band) in many schools makes it necessary for companies (like the one for which I used to work) to step in, providing band directors and band programs to schools who no longer have their own. These companies provide the opportunity for young students to acquire the hard work, discipline, and teamwork stills necessary to participate in a performing ensemble. The company’s presence within the school is largely due to the parents speaking out and requesting that some form of art/music education be available to the students.

    The fact that the band director is not an employee of the school, coupled with the fact that they are pulling the students out of ‘core‘ classes to hold rehearsal does not make this individual very popular among the other teachers. I’ve had teachers yell ‘how dare you‘ at me (in front of their whole class) when I come to collect the students. I’ve even had teachers say (again, in front of the whole class) ‘this student is not smart enough to make up my lesson if they leave with you, so they may not go’. What message does this send to the students? There certainly are several… not many are positive.

    As Anthony indicated in his post, this attitude needs to change if teachers are truly in their profession for the benefit of the students. We must unite!! We all know the pressures of testing, and the importance for the students to learn the material presented in class. A band’s version of a final exam is their concert. If a student is not allowed to leave class to attend rehearsal, what grade are they expected to get? We need to work together to ensure that students are getting the education and experiences they deserve, and not just filling in the correct bubbles on the state-mandated tests.

    As a closing thought… please check out Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser’s music advocacy website. Anthony linked this site in his original post – this is a different section of the website. Lots of great points!

    Music Advocacy’s Top Ten: http://www.childrensmusicworkshop.com/advocacy/topten.html

    Also, check out the Music Educator National Conference (MENC) website, under music advocacy: http://www.menc.org

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