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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 21, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Seattle school closures

Music stars become dwindling embers

Seattle boasts two of the best high-school music programs in the country: Garfield in the south end and Roosevelt in the north end. They are fed by the two best middle-school music programs in the city: Washington in the south end and Eckstein in the north end.

It’s truly amazing. These music programs are shining stars in the Seattle school system, and they provide a place for kids to come together and create something the entire community, and the even the country, can enjoy and be proud of. They are proof of what is possible in public schools.

These programs have taken years to build and cost a lot of money. Each one of them is heavily subsidized by friends and families of the students they serve. Auctions, fundraisers, bake sales — it all adds up. This year, Friends of Washington Music, the parent group at Washington Middle School, has a $50,000 budget to support the roughly 500 students in its music program.

The current school-closure plan requires that approximately 240 students move from Washington to Hamilton. Almost all of these students participate in the music program at Washington. When these students leave, their dollars will follow and the ability to raise $50,000 will be cut in half.

That is only the beginning of the demise of the music program at Washington. Once the Washington program declines, the Garfield music program won’t be far behind. Seattle public schools will be left with shining stars in the north end (Roosevelt and Eckstein) and dwindling embers in the south end (Garfield and Washington).

I wonder what Quincy Jones, whose name graces the new performance center at Garfield, would think about that.

— Alice Boytz, Seattle

Comments | More in Education, Seattle School Board

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