School districts are straining to deliver a quality education to all their students in this difficult economy, and things can be especially tough on music teachers. Across the country, shrinking school budgets have meant layoffs, increased workloads, cuts in funds for facilities and instruments, and even the elimination of music programs.
In a new Department of Education video called Keeping the Beat: A Teacher Talks About Schools, Music Education and the American Jobs Act, Philadelphia music teacher Jason (Jay) Chuong discusses the impact of the economic downturn on the learning environment of his inner city students. As one of six “itinerant” percussion teachers in the Philadelphia school district, Jay conducts classes in seven different schools and has a budget of just $100. His solution: teaching bucket drumming, using inexpensive plastic buckets that he can purchase at the local hardware store.
Jay says that the American Jobs Act would offer much-needed funds to repair his school district’s aging facilities and keep teachers on the job. “If the American Jobs Act is passed, we would put more money in modernizing schools, we would offer work for construction workers, we would hire back more teachers, we would do all kinds of things for the younger generation of the cities,” he says.
In the meantime, Jay remains on the move, going from school to school, teaching his classes in percussion and giving his students other important lessons as well. “Music has the opportunity to develop confidence in kids,” he says. “It gives them something to take ownership of. It develops team working skills; it’s all of these life skills that they can apply to all different parts of life.”
Watch Keeping the Beat:
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