Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstaphen
Parents and students are outraged that Atlanta Public Schools has fired multiple music teaching positions, leading to fears the district will eliminate the fine arts programs altogether.
APS will have 18 fewer band and orchestra teaching positions when students return to school in August, the district has announced. APS spokesperson James Malone could not indicate last week which schools will lose the music programs or teachers.
The public backlash to the announcement has been so severe, the Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstaphen came out and called news reports of total music elimination as false.”Due to incorrect information circulating, there is a lot of confusion about the status of music and the arts in our schools. In fact, some are suggesting that Atlanta Public Schools simply eliminated all music and arts in one fell swoop,” Carstaphen said. “We have not.”
Carstaphen went on to write in her blog that there will be 10 fewer band teachers and eight fewer orchestra instructors when the school year begins.
However, she said “there will still be approximately 40 band and orchestra teachers serving our schools. Some elementary schools will be sharing teachers (as they do now), and others did make the decision not to offer band and/or orchestra usually in situations where there were few students enrolled in those classes,” she said. “Those schools are instead using their staffing allocations for positions elsewhere in their school based on the needs of the students. Every elementary school will continue to offer a general music program, and band and orchestra programs will continue at the middle and high school levels.
There are 52 elementary schools in the school system. Before the position cuts, APS has a total of 58 band and orchestra teachers, Malone said.
APS is one of the last of the state’s 180 public school districts that provides orchestra and band instruction at the elementary school level, the superintendent outlined.
A prepared statement issued by APS about changes to music programs said, “This mirrors the District’s direction to increase instructional quality and efficiency.”
Despite the APS superintendent’s reassurances, more than a thousand parents took to Change.org to electronically sign against the wide-sweeping changes and cuts to the district’s music programs.
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