Anyone with ties to the public school system, whether through children, friends, or teaching associates, is aware that the past few years have been full of budget cuts and program rearrangements. The turn in the economy has taken its toll on the schools as it has on everything else. The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) reports that nearly 70 percent of schools cut positions in the 2009-2010 school year, and 90 percent "anticipate having to do so" for 2010-2011.
In and of themselves, those statistics, though troubling, are not particularly surprising. Organizations of all levels go through bad times, and any one worth its salt is going to find a way to responsibly adapt.
The problem within the problem of needing to make cuts is the way that those cuts are being made: disproportionately. Most of the time, the first programs to go (or the ones to be hit the hardest) are the arts, particularly music.
My freshman year, my high school's music department, already down to two staff, was cut by 50 percent when one was laid off. With a group of other students, we fought the decision because of the way we felt it would put an enormous dent in our high school experience.
Other programs were cut "equally"—meaning also by one staff member. Usually out of 14 or 15.
Since I was able to take plenty of math courses, I can tell you that 1 out of 15 is not 50 percent.
Let me set you straight before you cease to read out of disgust at my admitted bias: math is important, science is important, English and history and foreign languages are important. I am thankful that I was given the opportunity to learn these things in a good school system. I am not thankful that the arts, when put on the budget table with these others, are the first to make the journey from the feast to the chopping block.