SAUSD might stop the music…and the arts

Lost in the story about the Santa Ana Unified School District’s $2 million mistake is a tale that could end just as badly.

I met a group of students at this week’s SAUSD board meeting who were protesting because of threats from the district to cancel next year’s music and arts elective classes at three intermediate schools, Willard, Spurgeon and Sierra.

Apparently SAUSD administrators would rather focus on spending class time on “Language Arts,” which we used to call English, and Math. They are desperate to raise API scores and don’t see any value in music or the arts.

That this is happening in a city with an artist’s village is ironic and possibly tragic. The good news is that the district has not made a decision yet. Now is the time to complain to the district and to the school board members.

The irony is compounded by the recent spate of gang killings in Santa Ana. Kids just don’t have a lot of other avenues open to them in this city. They have one library, where they ought to have a half dozen. This past summer only the high school kids were able to participate in summer school. Our parks are crowded and insufficient. It is a sad state of affairs – made all the sadder if the music stops on account of the inept SAUSD administrators.

I found a website that makes the following claims about students who take music lessons:

Research has shown that children who are actively involved in music (who play it or sing it regularly):

  • Do better in reading
  • Learn coordination, goal-setting, concentration, and cooperation
  • Are more likely to do better in math and science because music helps build reasoning skills and cognitive development, which are important to both
  • Get along better with their peers and have higher self-esteem
  • Are more likely to go to college

Who knew? Those sure sound like positives for the children of Santa Ana. Why would the SAUSD administrators even CONSIDER cutting music and the arts? What would families in Irvine and Newport Beach do if their school districts tried something like this?

If the district administrators actually were complying with class size reduction, we might see better results from the current Language Arts and Math classes. And if they hired more credentialed teachers to teach Math, the results would likely improve right away.

Instead, the SAUSD administrators are thinking of cutting off their right hands to spite their arms. Unbelievable. Or maybe not surprising. Will any good decisions ever come from SAUSD Superintendent Jane Russo? I’m still waiting.


I did find out one bit of good news at this week’s school board meeting. As the O.C. Register put it, “Twenty-nine middle school students from Santa Ana Unified have been chosen to participate in a program that places them in prestigious preparatory academies across the country.”

“The A Better Chance program will send the students next fall to top boarding schools in states including Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. The program places students with scholarships that pay the full four-year tuition, room and boarding costs for every student, equaling about $5 million.”

Congratulations to the participating students! I wonder how many of them are involved in music and art programs at their schools?

About Admin

"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.