Eliminating elementary music would be educational malpractice

Eliminating elementary music would be educational malpractice

Dear Cumberland Citizens,

Will the threats to our children’s music education never end? The superintendent of schools in Cumberland has proposed cutting the entire elementary music program due to the unfortunate lack of needed budget support from the town. As an educational leader with over 40 years of experience, I totally understand the need to make difficult decisions, especially in these challenging economic times we are facing, but to propose to cut an entire academic area from a school program, especially one as vital to our social-emotional lives during these challenging times, smacks of educational malpractice.

It is important to note that music, and the other arts, are the academic subjects that people, and children in particular, are currently turning to in droves to ease the stress, find comfort, and express their feelings during this challenging time of self-quarantine and distance learning. A stroll through countless social media posts demonstrates clearly the central need for the arts to add enlightenment, meaning, joy, and beauty to everyday lives. Imagine a world without them. Imagine our current lives without the beauty and emotional release and connections that music brings to all.

Cumberland’s music program, as it currently stands, is already bare-bones, based on national academic educational standards. Cutting the entire elementary music program could very well make Cumberland’s public school elementary children the only ones in Rhode Island without any music program at all. When budget shortfalls make unfortunate cuts necessary, they must be spread out amongst all areas, instead of targeting any particular academic area. And music is academic, vital, and needed by all. It is not an “enhancement.” It is not something “nice” to have. It is central to our being and humanity. I’m not even certain Rhode Island’s educational requirements allow for cutting music, or any entire academic area from the school program. And even if it were legal and allowable to cut, in its entirety, any single academic area, especially one as vital to our children’s emotional well being and impact on lifelong learning and life quality, as music, is educational malpractice.

To all Cumberland citizens, please make noise about this, because if it happens, the current beauty and joy of music in your elementary schools will be replaced by silence.

David Neves

Cumberland High School Class of 1973