2009-2010 Commentary — 04 May 2010

Cindy Zhong

Students Jesse Savoey, David Robles, and Jason Knang practice in Ms. Manuel’s sixth-period Piano class. Piano, along with other music courses, will be cut from next year’s class offerings due to extensive budget cuts at Oakland High. Photo by Lisa Lac.

Longtime Oakland music teacher Sharon Manuel will be retiring since the music program is going to be cut.

According to principal Alicia Romero, the music program is being cut due to the budget cuts. Ms. Manuel has two choices; she can either get transferred to another school and continue to teach music or retire.

Ms. Manuel says that she has enjoyed singing since she was four. She attended UCSF, majored in music, and received a Bachelor’s degree.

“I didn’t choose music,” she said. “It chose me.”

“Music helped me to learn,” Peter Brown, paraphrasing a quotation from President Bill Clinton. “If it wasn’t for music, I wouldn’t be president today.”

In past years, there have been many programs cut due to the budget. Oakland High used to have, cooking, shop, and other vocational skills classes.

Staff here at Oakland High feel angry and disappointed about the music program being cut.

“It’s sad because I really like music, and we can’t keep teaching it,” said Thom Reinhardt, Biology teacher.

“It’s not a good decision” said Lawrence Shepherd, English teacher. “I think art and music are as important as math and English.”

“It’s wrong!” said Don Brooke, math teacher. “Music is a positive contribution.”

“Music helps teaching and learning as well,” said Mr. Brown, the art teacher.

“It is unfortunate that nonacademic programs such as the music department are being cut because it takes away opportunities from students” said Greg Evenhouse, a substitute teacher. “Typically it is unavailable to Oakland high students outside of the school.”

Student reactions

The students have had strong reactions to the news that the music program will be cut next year.

The program consists of orchestra/band, piano, and choir, and music literature. It was on and off until Ms. Manuel, the music teacher, reinstated the program when she began teaching at Oakland high.

After all the programs that have been cut throughout years, music will be next.

“They should keep the program as long as they could because if there’s a lot of students who wants to go to a music class, [the school should] let them,” said Susan Luong, junior. “I must say there’s a large number of people planning to take music classes next year.”

In the past, students began skipping school because of the budget cuts Oakland School District had decided.

“I feel sad that the music program is being cut,” said Miller Fikes, Junior. “I really like music.”

Music has had a great impact on many students. It has brought happiness and joy into their lives. If it wasn’t for music, they wouldn’t choose to be in school.

“It sucks badly that the music program is being cut,” said Nestor Alvarado. “It has a negative impact on the community.”

“Music is like my therapy when I have rough times, it inspires me. When I have music, I am motivated to keep trying and music has always been a part of my life,” said Tammy Truong, Senior. “One of my goals whenever since I was little was learning how to play music.”

We should try to prevent this problem from happening by fund raising. Even though we can’t prevent the music program from being cut, we can at least try to have our own music club.

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(1) Reader Comment

  1. How can they do this? I’ve heard that the principle is doing it against the school board and that they know nothing of this cut, is that true? We did a petition a little while ago and gave it to the principle but it seems she has ‘lost’ it. The music program is an important part of the school and i can’t understand why they can’t sacrafice $100,000 for the music programs. Please respond to these questions thank you very much!!!

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