Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Petition for Music Excellence at MG Schools

Passing along a message that floated in on the Ee-lectronical ether mail about retaining music excellence at MG schools.


As many of you know, a group of CG and Monona folks have gotten together to express concern about the staffing of our strings program given the potential cuts in several music teachers for next year. In short, if both elementary strings teachers are cut, but the program is retained it may be taught by a teacher who is technically certified, but not experienced or qualified to teach strings.

Andrew Taylor has composed an excellent online petition asking the board to consider qualifications such as experience and ability when staffing our music programs. Please take a peek at the link below, and if you agree, sign and forward on. It would also be very helpful if the Board and Administration (principals) got individual emails and if people came to the 4/28 board meeting.

To be clear, this has nothing to do with not making necessary cuts, or with the closing or non closing of Maywood. We are simply asking that within the context of the retained programs and teachers, that many factors be taking into account.

Read the petition. He says it better. :)

Please give it a reading, sign your name, and forward the following link to all your friends and neighbors!

Also be sure to contact your school principal today if you can, since they're beginning to hash through the music teacher assignments today.


  1. Thanks Doug!

    Glad you appreciated the effort to make the petition focused, positive, and productive. I hope people add their names, and contact school board members to reinforce the point.

  2. I honestly don't get the point of this petition. Isn't the school board bound by the contract? I thought layoffs are in strict order of seniority, based on the State of Wisconsin license. Are they asking the board to somehow ignore the contract with the union? I really don't think they can layoff off a more senior teacher if that teacher is licensed to teach something that a less senior teacher is teaching, can they?

  3. Q: "I honestly don't get the point of this petition."

    I think you're reading too much into it. As I read it the petition is saying that music matters and esp. 4th and 5th grade strings. It says to select qualified teachers. I think the Board could aspire to those goals within the confines of the contract. I don't know how seniority works in schools and across departments.

    The heart of the petition states:

    "The undersigned therefore request:

    that Monona Grove School District retains its commitment to fourth- and fifth-grade strings as a foundation for our district-wide music programs;

    and that staffing selection and assignments give priority to qualified and experienced teachers in the specialized disciplines of strings, band, and choir.

    We know these are challenging financial times for the district. And we commit to working with the district board, administration, teachers, and staff to navigate these difficult choices."

  4. The teacher's contract is far more constrained than one might imagine. Seniority reigns supreme within licensing requirements. I do not believe the board has the latitude the petition hopes for, but we shall see...

  5. As one of the authors of the petition, I'm happy to speak to its intent. While the board is certainly bound by the terms of its contract with the teacher's union, the contract does allow consideration not only of seniority, but also of ''training, experience and certification'' as it relates to available positions.

    Full text of this portion of the contract is available on Peter Sobol's blog:

    We encourage the board and district leadership to emphasize training, experience, and certification, particularly as it relates to such specialized areas of study as strings, band, and chorus. Student success in strings, for example, really requires teachers with direct experience and qualifications in strings. The same is true for band or choir.

    In our discussions with the School Board, we've heard that several just assume they have no discretion or standing beyond seniority. But the contract suggests they do have such discretion and authority. Our children are worth the effort.

    The union may file a grievance in response to such a decision, which is their right under the contract. But let's not abandon the goal of qualified and experienced teachers appropriate to the curriculum before we even start.