Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Orchestra Conductor at Detroit's Cass Tech: 'I am scheduled to be laid off as of Sunday, March 7, 2010'

Aja Burrell Wood is a PhD Candidate at The University of Michigan in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance. She writes about the scheduled layoff of Marc W. Haas, Orchestra Conductor and Music teacher at Detroit's Cass Technical High School, which she attended:

“More than 25 music and art teachers are threatened with Feb. 28 or March 7, 2010 layoffs. In my view, the arts programs in Detroit are one of the things that have been working for decades within the Detroit Public School system despite its troubles in other areas. Losing arts teachers and programs would only serve to put Detroit's youth in further peril.

“Quite simply, I believe the arts matter. The arts provide access to success in all areas. Our nation's arts programs not only produce talented and successful artists, but also talented and successful surgeons, lawyers, scientists, politicians, business executives, etc....leaders period. Let us not lose what has proven to contribute to greatness time and time again.” “The letter below comes from the Conductor of the Orchestra and Music teacher Mr. Marc Haas.”

[Excerpts] “Dear Orchestra Students and Parents
It is with profound regret that I have to inform all of you that I am scheduled to be laid off as of Sunday, March 7, 2010. My teaching assignment is 'not currently designated as a critical shortage area,' therefore, after history of some 90 years, the Cass Tech orchestra program finally comes to an end. It is of absolutely vital importance that the students continue to work hard--indeed, now, harder than ever--as these layoffs are sometimes rescinded at the last moment. Now, more than ever, the students have to 'show out'--if the excellence of our program counts for anything, NOW is
when we have to show that excellence.

“Over the 15 years that I have been at Cass Tech, and in the many decades before I got here, thousands of students have benefited enormously from participation in one of the best music programs in the country. It is a tragedy that that is now to be taken away from our students, and our society will be the poorer for the loss of program that produced artists like Diana Ross, Lily Tomlin, Regina Carter, Donald Byrd, and put members in every major orchestra in the country.” “If you have strong feelings on this matter, please make them known to any and all. Please forward this to anyone you know who might be interested, or be able to help avert this tragedy
With great sorrow, Marc Haas”

1 comment:

JMW said...

This is as always, dumb and shortsighted. Without addressing the obvious result of severing the generational transfer of classical music that insures creation of future audiences and professionals, it is amazing that administrators continue to prioritize in this way. Music is equally as important as reading and mathematics, a fact amply demonstrated by the uses to which music is put and the immersion of our culture within it. Cass would be better off cutting gym programs, as kids can play and run during their at-home time. (Remember when we were young people?) Even if seen only as a simple behavioral tool, music study can literally, physically save and change lives, instilling within at-risk students a true sense of being and belonging that transcends the confines of instrumental study and permeate every future action of a student. Cass has a reputation for quality education that belies this blatantly stupid decision. It should reconsider. Now.