A Washington mother of three criticized the local school board for canceling music lessons for fourth-graders after a school board member alleged it was entrenched in ‘white supremacist culture’ and ‘ institutional violence’.
Alesha Perkins criticized members of the Olympia School District after they voted last week to suspend band and orchestra classes amid a million-dollar budget shortage.
Perkins called School Board Director Scott Clifthorne, who argued that the school district was “entrenched in … surrounded by the culture of white supremacy” at a meeting of concerned parents last week.
Clifthorne argued that music lessons are beneficial but not equitable as students in certain schools may miss out on ‘basic instruction’.
But Perkins argued that Clifthorne’s narrative was false and lacked evidence.
“We’ve reached a level of absurdity in our school district, between our school board and our leadership that is hard to ignore right now,” Perkins told Fox & Friends.
Alesha Perkins criticized members of the Olympia School District after they voted last week to stop band and orchestra classes amid a million-dollar budget shortage.
Perkins called school board director Scott Clifthorne, who argued that the school district was “entrenched in … surrounded by white supremacist culture.”
At the gathering, several students showed up with their band gear while carrying their instruments.
Clifthorne compared white supremacy to the way music courses are taught. He stated that while the music courses were beneficial, the way they were offered resulted in some students missing classes.
“There is nothing about instrumental string or wind music that is inherently white supremacist,” Clifthorne said.
‘However, the ways that it is and the ways that all of our institutions, not just schools (local government, state government, churches or neighborhoods) instill and allow the culture of white supremacy to continue to spread and cause institutional violence meaningful are things we have to think about carefully as a community.
‘And I think we need to do that interrogation. And we need to address the ways that it creates challenges in managing the educational day for our primary students while maintaining the program.’
In an interview with the news outlet, Perkins claimed that fourth-grade music courses were a “target” and that certain policies were leading families to leave.
“We are losing students in large numbers,” he said. I’m not talking about a handful of students.
‘I’m talking about hundreds and hundreds of students who are leaving the district, and practically all of them cite these results. You can’t sustain a school district with a mass exodus of students.’
Clifthorne argued that music lessons are beneficial but not equitable, as students at certain schools may miss out on “basic instruction”.
The school district has 12 elementary schools that will be affected. Cutting the music course will help address a portion of the district’s $11.5 million budget shortfall.
Eliminating band courses for fourth and fifth graders in the school district could save $530,000, according to The Olympian.
But, in the end, only fourth-grade students were affected, and the district kept the roughly $350,000 budget for fifth-grade band students.
The district is expected to announce additional layoffs to combat the budget shortfall and some parents fear for their children’s education.
Some staff cuts include 26 percent of the district’s paraeducators, according to KIRO7. Classroom sizes are also expected to increase.
“I’m concerned about my children’s education,” Romeo, a parent in the school district, told the news outlet.
Others worried how far the budget cuts would extend and whether it would further affect the arts.
The Wake school district has a contentious past and recently made headlines when an elementary school banned white students from a new “safe space” club.
Earlier this year, Centennial Elementary started a new club for fifth graders that was exclusively for people of color, according to 770 KTTH.
The students involved meet once a week to “hang out, check in and possibly talk about their experiences as minority students as they build community, connections and trust,” Rep. Jim Walsh wrote in an email.
A similar club for fourth grade students was also in the works.