AB351: Save High School Marching Band, Color Guard, Dance/Drill Team Programs

image Currently, The California Legislature will be voting on a bill that will decide if Marching Band, Color Guard, and several other activities will count for high school P.E. credit. This bill passing is very important to college band directors who want high school students who want to participate in marching band to be able to do so, which also increases the number of students who want to join college bands.

Please help us in supporting the Bill so that we can give these kids the ability to participate in a high school band program. If possible, please write a letter to your local representatives to show them your support for Bill AB351. On the website www.ab351.org, you can find not only who is your local representative but there are template letters that you can print out, or edit and personalize to send to our representatives.

For those former band members on Facebook, you can join the group, Support AB351: Save high school marching band programs, at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=589067541&ref=profile#/group.php?gid=67977274373&ref=ts

Above all help increase awareness of this bill in your community; we would hate to see band programs at local high schools being cut. Imagine how different life would have been if high school marching band didn’t exist for those of you who have participated in it.

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Okay – so that’s the letter I received on this topic – “Bill AB351”. 

To be clear, since 2006, because of California Dept of Education rule changes, Cheerleading, Color Guard, JROTC, Marching Band no longer qualify as Physical Education credit.

The result has been the utter decimation of student groups like band, cheerleading, drill teams, etc.  Enrollment in such activities has dropped by 90% at many schools.  Hollywood High in 2007 had 114 students – in 2009 they had 14

The first question that hit my mind was, “Why in God’s name would they cut Cheerleading, Color Guard, JROTC, & Marching Band’s credit toward Physical Education?  Anyone that’s been in parades knows the physical demands of practices and performances & the discipline and skill required to participate – not to mention the social and educational benefits of such music programs.

My first reaction was, “These California State Legislature morons must be completely disconnected with the millions of kids participating in these activities.”  Then once I cooled down, I realized:  It’s got to be something deeper than this. 

Follow the money, I say.  Lo-and-behold, guess who are the big opponents of AB351:

…The California Teachers Association

That’s right.  As disgusting as it might be, the TEACHERS UNION is against providing PE credit for activities like Band, Drill team, Rifles/Color Guard, JROTC, etc.  The question is why?  Why would they be against an activity that promotes music education, while encouraging physical participation in a school course that involves them in strenuous physical work during both the school year as well as after hours during practices and on weekends during football/basketball games?

I say it’s money and I’d challenge someone to say other wise.  The CTA is facing budget cuts and those cuts are resulting in job losses throughout California.  With funding earmarked for certain areas of education, it sure must be frustrating to see money go to something silly that students might like to participate in like MUSIC or DRILL TEAM when it could otherwise go to some other teacher’s salary and save a job here and there.

But hey – with a little politicking, anything is possible right?  One really has to wonder how it is that the California state guidelines for PE Standards suddenly after decades of agreement are now under scrutiny and Band & Drill team are being “re-evalatued” for application for PE credit?  There was never a question of these activities legitimacy as being applicable to PE credit until… oh… CA state’s education budgets got cut.

I’m sure there are legion of folks that will attempt to point to the AHA’s backing or some makeshift discussion about how “band participation” isn’t the same as running laps around the field.

And to those people I say, “You never participated in any of these activities did they?  You never sweat through the fall heat while marching laps and playing an instrument or swung a baton, did you?”

“You’d know better if you had.”

VISIT:  http://www.ab351.org/

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