Opinion: Music changes show lack of communication from Board


Jay Deegan

Charles Cush speaks in opposition proposed changes to District 203’s music programs. Cush was of was one of three Board members who voted against the changes.

Nolan Shen, Staff Writer

The recently approved changes to District 203’s high school music programs leave me cautiously optimistic but also frustrated at the lack of communication displayed.

I completely understand the rationale behind the decision to overhaul the music program. I am all in favor of technical development. Private technique lessons can be a massive financial burden on some families, so by offering these lessons through the school, more students have access to individualized instruction. 

I’m worried that requiring these classes will drive students away from music. Lunch time is precious to many students. It’s for studying, getting support or taking a much-needed break. Right now, not every student will be required to take a technique class, but a large portion, including me, will be. This can sadly diminish a student’s passion for music. 

The part that has angered me the most about this plan has been the lack of communication with students and parents. My peers and I didn’t learn about the plan until it was posted publicly in the days before the Dec. 19 board meeting. At that board meeting, the music teachers confirmed that no student voices had been heard, even though the plan had been in progress since February 2022.

When the plan was first released publicly, me and a fellow musician went to our music teachers asking to discuss the plan. They politely declined, saying that details were being worked out, and nothing was official. Two other peers attempted to speak with an administrator and were told to not discuss the matter with any other students. I have yet to see an attempt by teachers to have a decision with students in extracurricular ensembles, those who will be affected the most.

Between this and the Board’s decision to phase out the Latin programs in both high schools, I am disappointed that the majority of Board members have not paid attention to students as much as they should. In both cases, a students and alumni have been opposed to the proposed changes. When alterations are proposed that affect the academic experience of a student, that students are a primary voice throughout planning and public discourse.

With a change this drastic in the music program, hearing student voices is imperative. While I’m disappointed in aspects of the plan as well as poor communication, I hope that teachers, administrators, and the Board of Education can work alongside students and parents to find a solution going forward. We all acknowledge that there are aspects in our programs that need improvement, so let’s work together to figure it out.