The original article is here: Band Directors Laud Manilow's gift of instruments (Published in The Desert Sun of Palm Springs, CA, 4/15/2008)
I blogged on Barry's original donation here with some of my own first-hand experiences with how music programs benefit all aspects of a student's life: Better Minds Through Music
The current article had me jumping up and yelling because on this subject, Barry and I are --->here<--- Even back when I was a kid, my folks knew you can't expect a tax-funded entity to provide every opportunity your child needs to be the best person they can be.
"I think everybody should do it. At your kids' school you can buy a clarinet and they would be very grateful for that clarinet.
"I thought the school system takes care of things like this. Well, they don't. Or they won't. Anybody that wants these kids playing music, they can do it."
To take that little epiphany one step further, you don't really want those kinds of opportunities left entirely in the states' hands either. (I'm going libertarian here - please bear with me.) American politics has its own Golden Rule: "Whoever has the gold, makes the rules." The minute the government has the final say over parents and families on education - especially subjects considered subjective like the arts - you're at their mercy. Tax money will always be tight. It wasn't long ago California's finances were as bad as Georgia's after the Civil War. Teachers were even being paid with IOU's. Whadaya think happened to core academic subjects, let alone the arts and sports, in those conditions? Besides, a tax-funded entity being in charge of artistic subjects means everyone is going to try to enforce their opinion on what is "appropriate". You want artistic freedom? "Just say NO" to tax money, and a lot of red tape and headaches will disappear. (But that's a rant for another day.)
When I've talked to people about Barry's involvement in his local schools and adapting that example locally, I always hear the lamest excuse in the book: "Well it's easy for him, he's a celebrity and has more money than God. Of course Barry can make donations like that happen."
Let's look at the basics: for all strictly practical purposes, Barry is a local businessman who has an interest in music as well as in supporting the local schools and youth, and the business connections that fill this need. Now what community doesn't have that in some form?
I can give you an even better example of what private citizens can do for their children and youth when they pool their resources.
The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) started founding private schools to serve impoverished Appalacian communities more than 100 years ago. Women did not have the right to vote, and holding public office was out of the question, so they couldn't rely on the government. Some state governments (Georgia, N/S Carolina, Kentucky) had already decided against establishing schools in these rural areas. Not even a church or religious community would found a school in these regions. Individual DAR society members saw children who needed education and a way out of the extreme poverty they were existing in. So they started to teach the children nearby. Often times it was a matter of having children enter their own homes and teaching them to read, usually from the Bible. Then they gathered their friends, passed the hat, and built a school building - usually with dormitories because the students' families were so broken they didn't have a legitimate home. Then after spreading the word of the progress they were making, and needs still to be met, the National DAR got behind the effort to encourage all members world-wide to lend their support as needed.
Six of these schools were established in (5 in Appalachia, one in Massachusetts) to meet needs more desperate than any of us "Barry Bloggers" ever imagined for music programs. In addition, two more schools were founded out west for Native American tribes eeking out a living on the reservations they were forced into. Today, children from poverty usually seen in third-world countries, or with major learning disabilities or other major risk factors are getting an education and a future that otherwise wouldn't be possible. Links to all of these schools with their histories are here.
To this day, the DAR is paying to ensure that these children have hope and a future. With only one exception (Kate Duncan Smith school in Alabama) they are independent of any government. Society members serve as Board of Trustee members and contributors of money and other material goods as needed. Students need clothing? Here ya go! Campbells soup labels or pop tops for a corporate school support program? Here, share some of ours from our kids' schools. Items to sell in the thrift shop for fundraising? We'll hire some trucks. Where should we send them?
And all of this was possible because rural non-celebrities with no voice in government used what they had and put it in action because that's what was needed, and their successors today continue the tradition.
These are entire schools that were built and still serving their communities needs today.
Now doesn't funding a music program by private citizens for your average school district look easy?
No more excuses!
There was info included in the article for others to add their own support.
For Barry's Manilow Music Project in the Palm Springs area: http://www.manilowfund.org/
For schools in your own area - pick up the phone and give them a call. No one is going to turn down an interested citizen.