I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I figured out why I like Bruce Baker so much!

I was just looking over this excellent post by Bruce Baker about value-added teacher assessment - assessing teachers for merit pay, tenure, hiring/firing, etc.

And then I come to this:

I personally have significant concerns over the idea that poor urban kids should have access to a string of remedial reading and math teachers over time and nothing else, but kids in affluent neighboring suburbs should be the ones with additional access to foreign languages, tennis and lacrosse teams and elite jazz ensembles (this one really irks me) and orchestras.
A professor who specializes in school finance and digs jazz? For real?!?

All those Chuck Norris jokes should be Bruce Baker jokes....


schoolfinance101.wordpress.com said...

Digs jazz would be an understatement.

I actually had to spin this into a Chicago area example (for other reasons), which works, but suburban Connecticut jazz programs are what brought this issue to mind for me. If I recall correctly, Joel Frahm and Brad Mehldau attended William Hall HS in West Hartford together (Hall has collected a number of DB awards over time). Pianists Gary Versace (who I played with while doing my masters at UCONN) and Kevin Hayes attended Greenwich HS a few years apart. There are counter examples of great young musicians from urban arts academies, but the affluent suburban presence is strong - too strong in my mind (not that these guys were all from affluent families... but they went to Hall & Greenwich). And even those counter examples include pairings like Jon Gordon and Bill Charlap (hardly a gritty urban pairing). I'm not bashing these guys. They are some (not all) of my favorite musicians. But it's just not right. Music and arts programs are hurting in the urban core, and thriving in the affluent suburbs - including Jazz programs.

By the way, I think the Jazz is what actually helps us get our math right! We need more jazz musicians involved in public policy!

Duke said...

Amen to that. I think I first heard Wynton Marsalis make the analogy between jazz and democracy: you've got to take AND give to make it work.

I had the pleasure of hearing the NJCU Jazz Orchestra the other night, which is surprisingly up there in a category with Eastman, Manhattan, etc. Someone in the audience asked Ed Joffe a question about the cuts in funding, which led to a cogent, acerbic and passionate response. He framed his argument the way a good soloist blows on a tune.

One point he made was related to what you're saying: it's getting too expensive for a working-class or middle class family to send their kid to a conservatory. $50K/year at Manhattan Sch of Music (one of my alma maters) since you now have to live in the dorms. And then you go out and try to make a living playing jazz or classical music. It's becoming a sole provence of elites or the very, very gifted who show there talents at a very, very young age (not all great musicians do).

We are turning into 18th Century Austria: we're denying the arts to all except those who can afford them. It's completely against the spirit of the country, and the ones who have to fight this war on the front lines are the very music teachers who are getting slaughtered in Christie's insane jihad.

Anyway, thanks for the post.