Parents, students criticize plans to cut music in Montgomery Co. schools

Planned cuts to music programs in Maryland’s largest public school system are drawing strong, continued criticism from parents and students.

The Montgomery County Board of Education heard the latest concerns during a meeting Monday.

“We are slowly being stripped of our arts programming, and it needs to stop,” said Michele Moller, an advocate who focuses on issues related to Northwood High School. “Why are we limiting our high school students’ access to these programs?”

Moller, an official with the Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations, said a Northwood band teacher is scheduled to go from full-time to part-time next year.

“Let’s start to examine ways to build our music programs so cuts like this are unnecessary,” she told the board.

Other planned music cuts are scheduled to happen at Rockville High School, as first reported by Bethesda Magazine.

“This isn’t sustainable,” said Deb Stahl, a parent at Rockville High, which is expected to lose one of its choir instructors. “Parents who have been disappointed in the past are now outraged. We’re looking at getting the rug pulled out from under us again.”

Stahl claimed that the cuts were lowering morale among all music teachers and hurting the county’s ability to attract talented teachers in the future.

“We’re getting a negative reputation,” she said.

Isabel Valle, a sophomore at Springbrook High School, called music classes a “therapeutic outlet” and said, without them, students could be susceptible to stress, anxiety and depression.

“As a student, I understand how hard it can be find passion in a class or school work,” Valle said. “Many people find said passion in music.”

Students and parents were successful last month in reversing proposed cuts at Springbook High. There was a plan to make one of the school’s music teachers part-time, but that was canceled after the education board heard complaints.

Board member Jeanette Dixon gave her support to those who spoke out.

“I’ve always felt that you really can’t consider yourself a comprehensive high school unless you have a full-time instrumental music and a full-time choral music teacher,” Dixon said.

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