Why are the arts always the first place budget-cutters look?
The Schenectady school board will soon decide on a budget plan. Some of the ideas for program cuts that had been circulating are potentially devastating to the students of the district. Among them were drastic cuts to the fine arts programs. The district seems to have rethought most of these cuts, which is wise.
Arts programs are usually the first thing [targeted for cuts] because they are not seen as necessary to real-world life preparation. While the three R’s are seen as critical (and they are), the arts are sometimes seen as unnecessary and indulgent, which they assuredly are not. I [think] the arts are essential to a child’s core education.
Let’s look at some of the life skills learned from music classes:
1) Listening: Every successful human interaction depends on listening. Music teaches people to listen to the group, hear the sound of the piece and make sure your contribution makes sense.
2) Following directions: Even the most accomplished musicians require a director, someone to keep everyone playing together and making sure the overall product is the best it can be. At the school level, learning an instrument requires the student to listen to a teacher and follow directions or they will not progress.
3) Teamwork: Music performance is typically a group effort. All members of the group collaborate to make the song work.
4) Improvisation: This requires strong knowledge of a topic and creativity.
5) Time management. Concert dates are pre-set and unchangeable. Music students have to be ready for these deadlines.
6) Responsibility: Kids need to keep track of their instruments and not leave them on the bus, playground or other places. They also need to remember to bring them to school on band days.
When children invest time and energy in an endeavor, they will reap benefits. It takes many hours of practice to get the basics down and years of diligent practice to make beautiful music. There are many frustrations along the way and many times they might want to give up. But dedication to a goal reaps success.
Music teaches us the difficult life lesson that sometimes we fail. Yeah, life stinks sometimes, but tomorrow is a new day without any mistakes in it yet. In music as in life, we always have an opportunity to start again.
We need to remember that there are many kids who have difficulty in core classes or in social interactions. The arts are sometimes the only subjects where a child can readily succeed. When other topics can be exceedingly difficult, the arts can be a haven. It can be the thing that keeps kids in school.
Catherine M. Butryn
Even Red Sox get more coverage than Mets
Re Alan Hart’s April 11 letter, “Baseball coverage favors Yanks; Mets merit more”: Thank you so much for your letter about the lopsided coverage of the Mets and Yankees.
I, too, am a Mets fan, and can’t believe how all the coverage goes to the Yankees. I moved up to the Capital Region from Brooklyn in 1997 and couldn’t believe how little coverage the Mets always got in any newspaper up here. Not in Brooklyn: Mets and Yankees get equal coverage, sometimes with a full page for each team.
My biggest complaint is the television network news. When it comes to sports during baseball season, the Yankees get discussed first, then the Red Sox and then if there’s time the Mets get a little mention. There are two teams in New York, not three. I understand Boston is close, but it’s not New York.
It’s tough being a Mets fan in upstate New York.
Too many tax dollars go for guns, not butter
Re Tax Day: How many of us know what the government is doing with the money we pay?
I was surprised to learn from the Friends Committee on National Legislation that 37 cents of every dollar paid in federal income taxes go for current and past wars. At the same time, education, diplomacy and help to the nearly 100 million people living in poverty in this country get only pennies of every dollar.
Right now, members of Congress are hearing from the Pentagon that cutting their spending will be a catastrophe for national security.
With so much of our tax dollar already going to military projects, I think it would be a catastrophe not to reshape our budget to reflect our priorities as a nation.
Congress has an opportunity, but will they take it?
Bully tactics on display in closing FDR School
Re April 12 article, “FDR School closing expected”: It is so easy for bullies to pick on and exploit the less vocal and less educated. How easy it is to push around someone who can’t defend themselves. Most time, the defenseless do not know who or where to turn to find help.
After 38 years in the classroom, I decided to volunteer at the FDR School in Schenectady. I found it to be a well-run, safe and nurturing environment for the students. I observed the importance of this school to the students and the community. It was a place where the students could learn and feel safe and proud to be part of a community.
It was decided on April 11 that their community is no longer important. I wonder if this decision would have been pushed on another community in Schenectady, where parents are more vocal, more educated and know many more influential members of the community?
It is very sad that an organization that claims to promote programs on preventing bullying is the first to practice it.
Democrats have to slam door at porous borders
Boston should be yet another wake-up call for liberals who refuse to secure our borders.
At what point will people like [Sens.] Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand wake up to the fact that attacks will continue in the Northeast? Both blatantly ignore the pleas of border states, who see firsthand what’s going on. They simply don’t care what these states are dealing with and are oblivious to who will be the targets of their indifference. They can act irrationally on a moment’s notice if they think their actions will translate into votes, yet prattle when it comes to securing our country.
The military should be on the border now. Asking [Homeland Security Secretary] Janet Napolitano if our borders are secure and accepting her answer is a joke.
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