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Buffalo Public Schools Slash Teaching Music Performance

Filed under: Education & Schools

Can things get any bleaker in the Buffalo Public School system? A few weeks it was reported that the new school budget for the 2013-14 school year heavily cut the social work staff for the school system that is plagued by one of the most at risk student populations with the one of the lowest graduation rates in the state. Almost miraculously, most of those cuts were restored, but other totally wrong-headed budget cuts invariably sprang up.

The Buffalo Public Schools budget that was adopted Wednesday, May 22 has cut the instrumental music programs from all Buffalo schools, and at least 50 percent of instrumental music programs will disappear if public outcry is not heard. Eighteen instrumental programs have been completely cut or reduced and ten instrumental music teachers have lost their positions, and ten new hires will be laid off.

Learning to play an instrument is an academic discipline in which students develop countless lifelong skills that help them develop into intelligent and creative leaders. The longer your children play instruments and participate in music, the more these skills are being developed and more importantly, maintained throughout their lives. It has been proven that test scores improve in math and science. Through reading music, students learn a new language that is significantly more complex than any other written language. They also improve their physical motor skills by honing their abilities on instruments. Students learn leadership, organization, time management, dedication, and teamwork, and also develop an interactive awareness of what is occurring around them through ensemble playing.

On Wednesday, June 12 at 4pm, the music educators and their students will be ‘making noise’ on the steps of City Hall, because they want to make sure the Board of Education knows how detrimental this will be to the future of our students academic experiences and opportunities. The organizers of this demonstration suggest that it would be helpful if all parents and school children participating in the demonstration could also stay for the Board of Education meeting, which begins at 5:30pm.

Who knows? Perhaps miracles can still happen, if we all try hard enough.

—Jan Jezioro




  • Jesse Smith

    Well, you know, the city schools are always striving to compete with suburban districts like Clarence…

    I don’t think it is accurate to say that instrumental music has been cut from all schools. Principals have been given more autonomy over their budgets, and some (like at my son’s school) have chosen to maintain their orchestra and other instrumental music programs. In many other schools this turns out to effectively be a Hobson’s choice, as schools which are already under the gun to improve their standardized test scores or be punished with further cuts or closure decided to hire test prep coaches instead of music teachers. I think we can mostly blame the State for this sorry state of affairs.

  • Mel Holden

    The district could have said no to the Race to the Top money and therefore would not currently be hemorrhaging millions of tax dollars to comply (with the ridiculous APPR and data people) and therefore might have money for instrumental music programs. The “autonomy” that the principals have been given will eventually destroy many school programs. It is all wrong. Hiring test prep coaches over teachers who give our students enrichment is WRONG no matter how one looks at it. All of the people in power have the choice to do the right thing and they constantly choose to do wrong.