A Washington school district is planning to cut music classes it believes promote “white supremacy culture” and “significant institutional violence.”
The Olympia School District — which is facing a budget shortfall of $11.5 million — voted last week to eliminate band and strings for fourth-graders in an effort to both save money and fight racism.
School Board Director Scott Clifthorne admitted during the meeting that research proves music classes are “healthy for young minds,” but that they are disproportionately rolled out across the district’s 12 elementary schools.
Students at some campuses are required to miss “core instruction” in order to attend music classes, he said, while some campuses offer longer instrumental class time than others.
“We also know that there are other folks in the community that experience things like a tradition of excellence as exclusionary,” Clifthorne said.
“We’re a school district that lives in and is entrenched in and is surrounded by white supremacy culture. And that’s a real thing.”
The board director told concerned parents that there was nothing “intrinsically white supremacist” about string or instrumental music, but warned that there are ways in which it could contribute to the racist culture.
“The ways in which it is and the ways in which all of our institutions — not just schools, but local government, state government, our churches, our neighborhoods — inculcate and allow white supremacy culture to continue to be propagated and caused significant institutional violence are things that we have to think about carefully as a community,” he said.
A spokesperson for the district told The Post that the cuts only applied to a music elective students were able to opt-in for in addition to their general classes — the district wouldn’t be cutting any secondary music offerings, general elementary music or fifth-grade band and strings, the latter of which was also on the chopping block.
“It is having a disparate impact across our schools on students who choose to participate in band and strings and on those who choose not to,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “The ‘opportunity’ offered to all forces choices between things like lunch, recess or intervention time and this ‘opportunity’ disrupts our teachers’ ability to teach all kids in their classes academic content in an already packed school day.”
The decision angered parents, one of which said the decision was “par for the course” for the controversial board, which allowed one of its elementary schools to ban white students from a new “safe space” club until backlash forced it to reconsider segregating its fifth-graders.
Alesha Perkins, a mom of three in the district, told Fox News that there was “no evidence whatsoever” that the fourth-grade music classes contributed to white supremacy.
“We have reached a level of absurdity in our school district, among our school board and our leadership that is just hard to ignore at this point,” Perkins said.
The Olympia School District has not yet adopted its controversial budget.