Posteado por: tucidides | 1 abril 2010

Cidra music students protest fine arts cuts at Education

Eva Llorens Vélez

Hundreds of students and musicians from Cidra’s Student Tuna group and the city’s band held an unusual protest Tuesday at the Education Department.

The students “serenaded” Education Secretary Odette Piñeiro to protest her latest circular memo, which would virtually eliminate fine arts courses at public schools and leave thousands of teachers jobless.
The protesters arrived at Education headquarters in Hato Rey in city buses accompanied by municipal police officers provided by Cidra Mayor Angel Malavé.

“We have not heard the conservatory of music or colleges talking about this because their graduates will not be able to find jobs … The secretary’s actions minimize the value of a fine arts education. The letter sent by the secretary says that if there is no one to give music at the elementary level, then any teacher can do it,” said a music teacher from the Jesus T. Piñeiro school who declined to be identified.
The protesters delivered a document signed by some 3,000 people urging the secretary to rescind her latest school policy.

Piñeiro’s memo on graduation requirements for the upcoming school year deals a “death blow” to the teaching of such subjects as dance, drama, music and visual arts in public schools, critics charge.

The Education chief’s memo, issued on March 10, slashes the number of credits required in fine arts classes at the intermediate and high school levels by half, while practically eliminating such classes in elementary schools. This could threaten the jobs of at least half of the 2,278 fine arts teachers in the island’s public schools.

Starting in August, fine arts subjects currently being taught for a whole year at the intermediate and high school levels will be required only for a semester, according to a copy of the memo. It requires regular elementary school teachers to “integrate” fine arts subjects into their classes if such schools lack fine arts teachers.

Cidra’s city band has been playing for 60 years and the new order also marked the entity’s end.
The protesters brought items made in visual arts classes and paintings to show that students need these classes.
Frances Fernández, a student at the Jesus T. Piñeiro school who is a member of Tuna, said she is graduating next year and was hoping to get a tuition waiver for singing in UPR’s Tuna group. “This will affect my ability to get a scholarship, [and] my brothers and sisters will be affected in the future,” she said.

The secretary met with protesters, but at press time it was not immediately known if she would reverse her decision on the fine arts courses.




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