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Is it legal/fair

Hi all,
 
I'm in my 6th year teaching music - finishing my 2nd year teaching in Elk Mound, WI.  We have about 270 kids in our high school and run a 4 block schedule.  The band director and I split a block.  The only other skinnies offered are phy. ed. during block 1b which is the same time as choir.  and Intro to Sociology (A), Medical Terminology (B), and Intro to Psychology (B).  All other classes are offered in 90 minute blocks.
 
Our school used to have a competitive show choir.  All students in Show Choir were required to be in Concert Choir.  In the year between when the old director retired, a director was in for one year and made some exceptions to this policy.  A decision was made to cut the show choir prior to my employment in this district.  We did a non-competitive swing choir for a year with 12 girls.  About 1/2 the students were not in choir due to scheduling conflicts.  
 
At this point, my students wish to have a show choir again but think it's not fair or LEGAL that I require them to be in choir for at least a semester in order to be eligible to participate in show choir.  Our enrollment in choir is low - one section of pre-algebra is scheduled against choir 1st semester, so I only was able to recruit a couple of kids from my 8th grade choir.  I could have under 20 kids next year.  This year I had steady enrollment of about 32 kids.  
 
Is there a legal issue here?  Nowhere else do I know of students being able to be in an extracurricular group like this without being in the Concert  Choir because they learn the technical skills of singing during Concert Choir rehearsals and by being part of a choral program teaching good technique and reading skills.  
 
Please help me out if you know about this!!!!!
 
Thanks,
 
Mark 
Replies (2): Threaded | Chronological
on May 27, 2010 11:52am
Mark:
The real problem here is the block scheduling. I was an administrator  in educatio for over 24 years, I have observed so many "quick fixes" in education and of course they are all good ideas, good ideas as long as you have great teachers making them work. The block scheduling program started in Colorado. The school that started the idea had over 260 music students in their program. Within 2 or 3 years the program was all but disintigrated. They do not use the block scheuduling now. Of course, other arts programs and elective type programs were distroyed, too.
Read "Waht Great Teachers Do Differently" by Todd Whitaker. All of these so called inovative programs are fine, if you have a great teacher. It is the teacher that makes the differense, not the program.
Okay, to answer you students questions and to help them have a smaller, more auditioned and selective group. With the present block scheduling plan, you have no choice. Students cann't take two music. What you and the band director have done is find a way to have choir and band, in a block schedule. Not an easy task. Again, it is the teacher who make good things happen for kids.
Now that the school is in a block scheduling process, good luck in changing it back. Teachers only have three classes to plan for, (I would almost bet my accordion they are not teaching the full 80 or 90 minutes a class.) What I have observed is teacher teach for about 40 to 45 minutes and then have the students read. This was not the idea with the block scheduling idea but it is usually the outcome.
If you can get a jazz choir schedule during the day, I would suggest that you do. You can change the curriculum in your jazz choir to include music that will be performed by both you concert and jazz choirs combined. This will surfice for the concert literature needs and vocal training needs.
Good luck and bless you for address the issue straight ahead.
The Kids are whats important and we need to do what is best for them.
Cheers,
Frank
Ciao
on May 27, 2010 2:05pm
Mark:  You're right to be concerned about the legal issue, but get legal advice, not our opinions here.  Legalities can and do change from state to state and even community to community.  The larger issue is usually student perception and family perception, and that's what caught up with the band director I cited in a previous post.
 
You use the word "extracurricular" for your show choir-to be.  Is that what you really mean?  An ensemble outside of school hours for no credit?  If so, I certainly agree with Frank's suggestion that you do whatever you can to make it curricular.  In fact a true extracurricular ensemble will almost certainly raise questions about liability, responsibility, and insurance protection that will be a LOT more important than what you're asking.
 
I also have to ask what your definition of show choir is.  You mention a swing choir with girls only.  Is that your concept?  If so, it isn't one that I agree with, although I did direct a women's show group at the university level.
 
And I also have to ask what you mean by the word "competitive."  Does that mean "intending to participate in competitions," or does it mean "competitively auditioned membership"?  Two very different concepts.
 
I feel your pain, having to try to keep your program operating with that invention of the Devil, Block Scheduling!!!  Not that things are a lot better at the university level, where the late afternoon and evening rehearsal hours that work best for our major inevitably conflict with afternoon labs and studios in architecture and art, and with evening grad classes (not to mention those absolutely essential social commitments!).  But if you can't offer music to all students who are interested, continue to offer the best you can to those who can manage to schedule it.  And re-read Frank's post closely.  Lots of good thoughts there.
 
All the best,
John
 
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