HWS 6th grade participation sign now

Student, Staff, and Parent petition
Against the elimination of 6th grade music participation

On March 3, 2010 the 6th grade students at H.W. Smith were placed in what is being called lockdown mode. They were not allowed to leave their classrooms for anything except specials and lunch. Unfortunately, this happened to also coincide with the performance of a school wide Black History celebration, in which some of the 6th grade students were participating. The specials teachers were given no advance notice and the assembly organizers were told the 6th grade students would not be allowed to attend or perform approximately 20 minutes before the show was to start. When questioned about this policy the administration said they would look over a list of students to see if there could be exceptions, some ensembles were left with only 3 students who could participate. Their participation was contingent on my receiving approval from their homeroom teachers. Arguing with another teacher in front of students is unprofessional and was not an option. The assembly went as planned minus the 6th grade students. When asked why this policy had been enacted I was told that there was no single incident but poor behavior and academics in general.
While initially a blanket statement had been issued the administration has since handpicked students who are allowed to participate in extra-curricular programs such as music. While we were led to believe academics were the determining factor behavior seems to exclude students from participation as well. Here are my problems with these measures:
1. Students and parents all sign permission slips upon entering into any program such as band, orchestra, or chorus. They are told well in advance of the time commitment and for many students these areas offer a chance to shine that may be not be available in other areas.
2. If parental permission is required to enroll a student, we should require parental notification when removing a student. Many parents were unaware their students were being pulled from programs in which they had requested their childs participation.
3. Most of these classes are not extra curricular but co-curricular. This means there is a curriculum and grades are given. A students participation in co-curricular programs is determined by the director, parent, and student. We are always open to suggestion from classroom teachers but they do not determine membership in band, orchestra, or chorus.
4. Some students had been rehearsing the entire year and then were told they could not perform the day of the concert. Students should be given a period of time to change their behavior. If we remove all incentives such as performing, why would a students attitude improve?
5. If the administration wishes to remove a student from a program they must have clearly establish guidelines ahead of time. We should know what criteria are being used to justify the removal of each student.
6. Music and other programs should not be used to punish students. Instead alternative school wide incentives could be put into place.
7. For many students the Black History Assembly was a perfect opportunity to see how people of color made significant impacts in this country. In such a diverse environment it was a shame that some students were denied the opportunity to participate.

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Janet WoodwardBy:
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