Protesters bemoan music cuts, health programs in city schools

Jun 13, 2013

Buffalo schools were criticized yesterday for making cuts in the instrumental music program and for not improving its physical education and sex education programs.

The protest outside City Hall focused on music cuts, laying off seven teachers and ending programs in 14 schools, along with cuts in four others. 

Students and faculty brought their instruments to City Hall to protest music cuts in Buffalo school buildings.
Credit Mike Desmond/WBFO News

Schools Superintendent Pamela Brown says vocal music is being left alone and might be increased. She says principals in buildings decided to cut music to spend more money on other standardized test courses.

International School 45 band director Amy Steiner says music helps with students who don't speak English.

"They can't speak a word of English but because music is the universal language, I have learned to teach them how to play an instrument. The music notes are a universal language. It's an amazing experience that they can play their instruments and we can hardly speak to each other. It's a lot of fun," Steiner says.

Steiner says her program is being closed. She says she will move somewhere else and probably bump a teacher with less seniority.

The protest about music ran so long it overlapped a protest over recess and sex education. A group called Leave Our Legacy is pushing the board to install a more extensive sex ed course. D'Youville College student Kevin Sepulveda says kids need more than the traditional and inaccurate playground rumors.

"We're trying to basically just tell them that there are children out there who are ill-informed and as a whole the community needs to be educated on sexual health. It's missing from the curriculum and it should be put into the curriculum and enforced just like any other subject," Sepulveda says.

School officials say around 200 students became pregnant last year, although the figures are incomplete. There is said to be a rapid rise in sexually transmitted disease among high school-age students.

Superintendent Pamela Brown told the later board meeting there will be a sex education curriculum by fall and the youngest students will have their class schedules rearranged so they will have the mandated 30 minutes of exercise every six days of class.