The Manilow Music Project kicked off a major donation today in Clark County, NV.
In my little corner of paradise, parents and taxpayers are on the warpath with those in charge of the public schools. Once the RICO indictments rolled out (I blogged on that some time ago) a deluge of news stories hit the fan regarding nepotism, misspending, race-based political manipulation of an order not seen but prior to the Civil Rights era, and forms of incompetence too numerous to count. A member of the school board actually threatened to hit a TV reporter. To her face. On camera. In front of the television crew. And she got away with it, only to receive a hollow written reprimand a month later. No real consequences.
Then there's the story about a teacher in a local elementary school who built up an orchestra program with his bare hands and own blood, sweat, and tears. The principal allegedly engaged in a dick-measuring contest with the teacher, felt that he fell short, then fired him. Bye-bye innovative music program.
While this is going on, the film Waiting for Superman was released. The documentary is one person's POV on public school systems in trouble around the US and explores his idea of a solution. There's been plenty of arguing back and forth regarding the merits and drawbacks of the points presented. Parents are glomming on to the flic because they are just so frustrated they need someone - ANYONE - to say "Yes, I see what you see, and I have an answer."
The filmmaker gave an interview that cut right to the heart of the problem. (Paraphrasing) "Superman" isn't coming to save you, your schools, your community or your children. You're going to have to do it yourself.
That's the point where I connect the dots with the MMP. Barry isn't Superman, and a donation of instruments to music classes isn't going to magically solve all issues in public schools so that parents and elected officials can kick back in their Barcaloungers and think "Whew! Glad that's over! Where's the remote?". Barry is a local businessman who works in the area and is in a position to jump-start interest in public education. He can work out a deal with manufacturers and get kids the tools they need to engage and broaden their minds through music. Kids may find a career path they hadn't considered. Or realize they can do anything they choose to do. Or just enjoy school more so they get better grades. The positive fallout is potentially endless.
But only if parents and the community take the next step. Get on top of the school boards and make sure that a variety of music classes are scheduled in the school. Make sure that qualified teachers are available. Make sure that funding is available for the same. Get your physical plant up to snuff so that instruments and other equipment can be stored safely. Ensure that rehearsal rooms, band rooms, and an auditorium are available so rehearsals and recitals can be their own reward. There's so much that goes into a music program, that instruments are only the start. Don't get so comfy in that warm and fuzzy glow of today that you forget that the work BEGINS tomorrow. Then Barry's (and his fans') fundraising will do the most good.
Photos courtesy of TPTB on Twitter: