In reversal, small town will keep music in school

There haven’t been many cases of school music programs surviving cutbacks, despite the pleas from parents and educators that there’s learning value in the arts.

But the music program in Laporte, Minn., will play on, the Bemidji Pioneer reports today.

It’s a small town, the school board chair says, where the elected officials listen to people.

School board members voted unanimously last night to rescind their earlier decision to eliminate the music program and cut its only music teacher.

They had earlier claimed students in the town of 114 were no longer interested in music, even though the optional programs were full.

It took the town by surprise and there’s a reason for that, the Pioneer says.

The school board had been advised by the Minnesota School Boards Association to keep things quiet and make the cut.

“I can tell you that I think we got very poor advice, and we listened to poor advice,” Joan Moorhead, a board member, told attendees at Tuesday’s meeting. “And in retrospect, we should have gone with our hearts instead of listening to poor advice from legal counsel.”

(Music teacher Louise) Bass said she was happy to be reinstated and optimistic about the committee’s ideas. She said she’d like to see a second staff person teach band and take over some of Bass’ elementary classes, which would free her up to teach choir and the remaining elementary lessons.

A public hearing will be held next week with parents to discuss ways to rebuild the music program in school. One parent suggested emphasizing learning to play an instrument and also produce some musical theater.

(h/t: Kristi Booth)

  • BJ

    So the other day the program wasn’t working, now they are talking about expansion. Remember it was not cut for budget reasons – so it was said – it was that it was a failed program (if the previous quotes are to be believed).

    • There was disagreement about the measurement. The music programs were full so the barometer of “not working’ was debatable. The school board, iirc correctly, claimed the programs were full only because other electives were already filled.

  • Guest

    Ask folks how much they use of what they learned. I know very little of music but I use it every time I appreciate a song or look at notes in my hymnal.

    • Al

      If you’re looking for anecdotal evidence, music paid my way through grad school (in a non-music field).

      If you’re looking for data, well, research abounds supporting the link between children learning music and learning in other fields. As I suspect you know.

    • There’s the nuts and bolts of playing music, and then there is the brain development that learning music creates.

      the latter is the important part
      https://www.ncu.edu/blog/can-music-help-you-study-and-focus

  • MCH

    I give them credit for reversing their decision. Too many times people hold their ground even if the decision is dumb.

  • Al

    Hurrah! Cheers, Laporte!

  • Veronica

    The nugget buried in here is the Minnesota School Board Association gave them this advice– how much of what’s being done by school boards is at their direction and what agenda are they pushing all over the state?

    • Yeah, that’s solid public policy advice: try not to let the public know what you’re doing.

      • Veronica

        The MSBA has a super-secret Policy Manual that you can buy access to. I wonder if a FOIA request would work to find out what it says? I’d really be curious to know what legal advice school boards might be getting. http://www.mnmsba.org/PolicyServices
        (I have only ever filed one FOIA request, so I’m a little fuzzy on the rules.)

        • RBHolb

          If they’re not a public agency, FOIA or the Data Practices Act would not apply.

  • KariBemidji

    It isn’t mentioned in the article but I wonder how many parents called and said they were sending their kids to Bemidji, Walker, or Park Rapids.

    • Mike Worcester

      Considering the size of the student body at Laporte, it would not take many to make that switch to drastically impact the district. That resultant loss of aid, esp at the high school level, would be rough.

  • Jack

    Legal counsel doesn’t always think things through with the students’ best interests in mind.

    My friends know that I considered summer band to be an excellent teenage daycare. Our kid turned out just fine, too busy with band to get into mischief.