Thankfully, I had a link to this video from a friend on Facebook to cheer me up:
As budgets shrink across the country, school districts are facing tough decisions about cutting teaching positions and eliminating courses. In some cases, that means getting "back to basics" by focusing on reading and math. I'm a former English teacher, so I appreciate attention to reading -- and numerous studies have shown that a student's future academic success is dependent on learning to read by third grade. But a focus on reading and math at the expense of science, social studies, foreign language and the arts comes at a price.
The following quote is from an article about how the P.S. 22 chorus became celebrities on the Internet and got to meet some of the artists whose songs they've covered (like Tori Amos, Stevie Nicks and Rhiannon):
"As for fame, aside from some local-hero treatment on Staten Island, getting spoiled by stardom isn’t an option, thanks to the bittersweet realities of P.S. 22, which runs only through fifth grade; most of the current group graduated from the school and the chorus last month. 'I’m devastated,' says Milagros Vega, whose daughter, Mariah Baez, is an alto. 'I want to hold her back.' Mariah typifies the benefits of working with Breinberg: Confidence skyrockets and grades improve. 'Mariah has more friends and is so much more expressive' Vega says.""Confidence skyrockets and grades improve." The ability to sing songs by The Cure might not get tested by No Child Left Behind (NCLB), but the significance of being excited about learning and having opportunities for success can't be measured by standardized tests.
Gregg Breinberg (a.ka Mr. B), who started the chorus at P.S. 22 in 2000, has a blog about the group and their performances. Check it out -- more than 9 million people have already watched their videos. I just hope that, when it comes to supporting public schools through volunteer time or taxes and bonds, all those viewers will remember what our teachers and students can accomplish when given the support they need.
Photo from PS22 Chorus blog.