The Chinese are coming! The Chinese are coming!

Run for your lives.

Teach your children well… Crosby, Stills & Nash
What we have here is a failure to communicate –
Cool Hand Luke
All we have to fear is fear itself  -
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing -

Well, well, well.  So they’re teaching Chinese music at Reed Intermediate School. , you’d think they were displaying  People’s Republic of China flags all  over the place and having kids walk around muttering timeless platitudes from Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book!

But seriously folks…

The  sad thing about all of this is that the superintendent and the Board of Education could have defused the whole situation very easily. 

In the short term they could have simply explained that since we live in an ever-closer global community and since China is an extremely influential part of that community, it’s important for  future generations to have an understanding of various cultures.  The Age of Isolationism is done, over, fini.  There is no return. You need to get over it.

Considering the fact that music is an extremely important part of any culture, it logically follows that our schools would be exploring that.

As anyone who cares to take the time to view the district’s social studies curriculum (posted on the district’s web site and available to the public in every school), the music program is fully aligned with other disciplines.

An explanation along these lines could then be easily tied into a reminder that this is precisely the kind of thing teachers spend in service days doing—aligning and integrating curriculum, designing programs, evaluating the current research relating to these matters, etc.

In the long term the board and superintendent’s strategy should have been to keep the public informed all along. 

Issues such as teacher in service, integration of curriculum and the efficacy of new programs should never come as a surprise to anyone.   There needs to be an ongoing, concerted effort to keep the public apprised of what’s going on in the schools. 

Shouldda, couldda, wouldda…

Complicating this whole mess is the board and superintendent’s self-imposed journey into irrelevant territory.

Consider this excerpt from the Patch article: Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson said officials would have embraced a foreign language rotation but there wasn’t money for such a teacher at Reed.

So instead they settle for second, or third, best -- a relatively cheap music program.  The teacher conducting this program is an experienced and highly regarded professional.  Imagine how she must have felt after hearing Robinson’s absurd remark.

Discussions in this context regarding things like foreign language or science are irrelevant.  Why did they even go there?

The music program in question is not a second choice.  It stands on its own merits.  It is equal to, not subordinate to, any other discipline.  Skills such as writing process, mathematics, history, English, etc. can and will be drawn into it. That’s one of the objectives of professional development days.

But you all knew that, right?  Wrong.  You didn’t know that because little effort has been made to keep you in the loop.

This whole mess is yet another example of one of the many things this board, and administration, simply doesn’t seem to understand.  The more people know and understand, the more likely they will be to accept and embrace your ideas.

Until someone finally ‘gets’ this, here’s what you can do to keep yourselves informed.

Go to the district’s web site and check out the curriculum at any given level.  While you’re there, navigate to the teachers’ web pages and view them along with links to blogs where they are provided.

Finally, here are two other blogs worth viewing:


Karen Visca October 16, 2011 at 12:41 PM
The point people are making is they do not need another music rotation. They are already taking Global music or Band or Orchestra. There could of been a better rotation for the children to learn. Chinese Studies is listening to music via You Tube headsets. It is suppose to be music appreciation. The children do not know Chinese. The children are saying it is boring and they do not like it. What benefits are they getting out of this rotation? We want them learning in a rotation that is a better fit.
Sandy Hook October 16, 2011 at 12:51 PM
The kids will now be learning Chinese in SHS twice a week for 20 min. It's great to get introduced to a foreign language but I wish it was Spanish. Our country has more Spanish speaking people than Chinese and it's also beautiful language.
Karen Visca October 16, 2011 at 12:55 PM
"Consider this excerpt from the Patch article: Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson said officials would have embraced a foreign language rotation but there wasn’t money for such a teacher at Reed." But yet they were ablle to find enough money to vote Dr. Robinson, et. al., raises. This shows where their real priorities are!!
tracy fiore October 16, 2011 at 01:48 PM
The Patch article "Chinese Music at Reed Being Questioned" states that this rotation will replace the Music Tech rotation. In my experience, Music Tech was instrumental in providing a musical springboard for kids who don't participate in band or orchestra. Will Chinese Music do the same?
Another LongTimeResident October 16, 2011 at 02:11 PM
There was no music tech last year so I don't know how anyone could say that Chinese music is a replacement for it - what they did get rid of was a guidance class which did not have any approved curriculum associated with it. Also, if the course is valid and stands on it's own, why wasn't the BOE informed of this change. Now Sandy Hook 4th graders have chinese twice a week for 20 minutes - what did they lose? Sandy Hook 3rd and 4th graders can take chinese prior to school start. The problem here is that there is no public discussion or curriculum that goes along with any of this. It appears that there is no plan - it's all jammed down everyone's throat. Can't the students learn about china in social studies? or what about any other culture, why only china? How do the kids really benefit? The bottom line is that Superintendent has no overall plan and that's why so many people are unhappy - including many of the staff who are too afraid to speak up.
Karen Visca October 16, 2011 at 02:34 PM
Yes, you are right there was no music tech last year. Music Tech was eliminated as a rotation but I am not sure exactly when they did this. They needed a 5th rotation for the 6th graders but they said they did not have money to hire a rotation teacher. Mrs. Hiscavich stepped up to teach this rotation.. They have Chineses Studies in the old Music Tech room that has headsets. The bottom line is they need a better rotation choice. That is my question also do the kids really benefit from this rotation? Was there any other choices given before they added the Chinese Studies rotation? In the Middle School have a choice to take either Spanish or French.
Karen Visca October 16, 2011 at 02:36 PM
It is not replacing Music Tech it was not offered last year to 6th graders. Music Tech was eliminated from Reed but I do not know when.
Sam Mihailoff October 16, 2011 at 03:21 PM
_________________________________________________________ integration of curriculum...absolutely a separate entity in addition to global music...questionable at best if in fact it is only listening to u-tube, this took ZERO planning I cannot go into specifics because I know little of the decisions made for curriculum choice. I do know, I am NOT in favor of the MANDATORY aspects of the music curriculum. Are classes being contrived to just fill the classroom day? Perhaps a straight forward Monday-Friday set-up needs to be revisited Music should not be "boring" to any student. Yes, a curriculum must be followed but certainly can be made vital and dare I say fun. I was indeed humbled last April when a former fifth grader located me on facebook, now some 32 years later...then there were two, four, now 18 of my dear grown-up munchkins regularly communicate. If this be the gratification of teaching, then I guess "I done good" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcIApVb6eHk&feature=player_embedded#!
Kevin Fitzgerald October 16, 2011 at 06:59 PM
George, I agree with your statement "The more people know and understand (about what the District is doing and why), the more likely they will be to accept and embrace your ideas". I think the District is it's own worst enemy when it comes to communication with the public. There is plenty to celebrate and they need an effective channel (two-way channel) to bring parents up to speed quickly and often. This will continue to be a priority of mine on the Education Committee of the Legislative Council, hopefully through another term.
Desiree Galassi October 16, 2011 at 09:40 PM
George, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, there IS a remedy for better communication. It is the district's communication action plan drafted ...um...3 years ago. Anyone interested in foreign language at Reed or in the elementary schools should know that FLAP grants are available to districts and school districts are awarded sums in the hundreds of thousands over three years to support the expansion or creation of world language programs. I have informational power points one of which I shared with the board chair and another member two years ago of how we can get this done. if anyone is interested, I'd be happy to present it at a PTA meeting or other place. There are great opportunities out there that don't have to cost a lot. I began teaching Spanish last year at the school where Debbie Leidlein teaches with material I found on line for free because the available resources were lacking and not current. I created an instructional WIKI where I housed all the free resources and connected students so they could access them too.
Debbie Leidlein October 16, 2011 at 11:07 PM
The U.S. Department of Education does not anticipate having a Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) competition for new grants in 2011. Funds appropriated to the FLAP program in 2011 will be used for continuing the grants into their second through fifth years.
Jean Thompson October 17, 2011 at 01:35 AM
In Tibet, hundreds of Tibetans have been incarcerated for peacefully expressing their political and religious beliefs. Conditions in prisons are reported to be dismal, with numerous accounts of torture and ill-treatment. In particular, PRC law enforcement officials have perpetrated violent acts against Tibetan women in detention centers and prisons. Buddhist nuns and lay women have been subject to torture or violent, degrading and inhuman treatment, including assault, rape and sexual abuse. In June 1994, one Tibetan nun died while in custody, reportedly as a result of a beating by guards. PRC authorities also have severely restricted religious practice; out of the 6,000 Buddhist monasteries that were destroyed by the PRC since its 1949 invasion of Tibet, only a few hundred have been rebuilt. Yep.... this is what I want my kids to sing about.
Desiree Galassi October 17, 2011 at 07:00 AM
Once again we have waited too long. The money was available as of last spring. I have an ACTFL article with the information.
Douglas Brennan October 19, 2011 at 02:07 AM
Are we focused on learning or on filling time slots. Does this take us closer to our ideal or is it just another place to stop on the journey to nowhere? And they asked "Which way are we going?" "There was no answer" from the book "The New Russians" by Hederick Smith.
DAY October 19, 2011 at 01:10 PM
The writer prefaces his "opinion" piece with a quote from Crosby, Stills & Nash - a pop band whose members were stoned on dope, acid, cocaine and lord knows what else for most of their adult lives. And he expects to be taken seriously? But I digress...
newtowngrandma October 20, 2011 at 12:58 AM
And you a charter member of the Lunatic Fringe... We should give YOU any credibility???? Yeah, right! Crawl back in your hole, wack job!
sadielee October 20, 2011 at 11:11 AM
Educate me Doug, what is the "ideal" and is it "ours" or yours?
Douglas Brennan October 22, 2011 at 02:38 AM
Neither yours nor mine. The language was very clear. Does this take us closer to our ideal "future state" or not. It is an abstract concept used for strategic planning.
Douglas Brennan October 22, 2011 at 02:45 AM
Go your way I'll go mine to carry on!!! Newtowngrandma Whether they were stoned or not I loved their music. Too bad most of Steven Stills songs were written about "sweet judy blue eyes" Resorting to name calling however was never a subject for a previous generation of grandmas.
Sam Mihailoff October 22, 2011 at 03:03 AM
newtowngrandma... Correct... to you Doug Brennan is on the Lunatic Fringe...and he's got lots of company...."BOO" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quTYl9WBo_M
Jimmy Pursey February 23, 2012 at 08:59 PM
@ DAY- Grandpa? I thought you were dead?
Jimmy Pursey February 24, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Learning Chinese will help children compete in the business world of the future. The well-off parents of private school kids began doing this in great numbers starting in the early 2000's.


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