Save the music

To the SMMUSD Board of Education and Dr. Schmidt:

Our family moved to this area from a suburb of Philadelphia two years ago. Despite numerous friends’ warnings about the sorry state of public education and its funding in California, we rejected private schools and opted to live in Santa Monica so we could send our children to public school here. Certainly, we were attracted by the quality of the academics, but we were especially drawn by the outstanding music program. Imagine our shock to learn that the elementary music program is now threatened.

It is difficult to convey what playing the violin, and exposure to music more generally, has done for our 11-year-old daughter (a sixth-grader on the Concert Orchestra at Lincoln). Involvement in music has fostered our daughter’s self-confidence, poise and interest in the arts. It has helped her develop discipline, good study habits and a belief in the value of hard work. It has helped her understand that teamwork is about individuals with diverse talents coming together to create a larger whole. It has helped her develop an appreciation for positive aspects of our culture. Imagine a sixth-grader who goes around the house humming Vivaldi, or whose favorite compact disc is Bach’s double concerto, or who thinks that Mozart led a fascinating life. Imagine a sixth-grader whose favorite school day is Thursday, because that is the day the Lincoln Concert Orchestra rehearses. Imagine a sixth-grader who looks forward to high school so she can be on the Symphony Orchestra and travel to Chicago. And we know that our daughter is not alone.

The feature that makes the SMMUSD different is the music program. Stairway to the Stars is a unique, magnificent, awe-inspiring spectacle that demonstrates what children are capable of when they are engaged, stimulated, and taught and directed by adults who love what they do. Eliminating the elementary school component of the music program would eat away at the core of the district’s (and the city’s) personality and values, and would have ripple effects on the students for years to come. A good education is about many things, including instruction in the music and arts that both reflect and shape our traditions and culture. To paraphrase Richard Dreyfuss in the movie “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” if you teach reading and writing but take away music and the arts, soon children will have very little to read or write about.

Please preserve the elementary music program. Please do the right thing for the city, the district and, most of all, the children.

Jose and Eileen Escarce

Parents of a Lincoln sixth-grader and a Franklin second-grader

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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