Helen Lafferty's recent letter suggesting that the Hicksville School District no longer provide musical instruments to its students free of charge is an outrageous attempt to dismantle one of Nassau County's most outstanding fine arts programs.
By requiring students to pay the cost of renting instruments, the clear and unmistakable effect of her suggestion would be to make participation in Hicksville's band and orchestra programs out of reach for a large number of our students. This would have an immediate and devastating impact not only on our district's award-winning music program, but also directly upon our students.
In Hicksville, as in many other districts throughout Long Island, we give every student an opportunity to receive an outstanding fine arts education - not just the one whose families can afford to do so. Mrs. Lafferty's suggestion would undoubtedly deny that opportunity to literally hundreds of Hicksville students each and every year and, in so doing, deny many of them the opportunity to pursue college scholarships in their chosen field in fine arts. Perhaps Mrs. Lafferty has not heard of the countless academic studies that have been conducted over the years that show a strong, unquestioned link between musical training and academic achievement. Why do we want to do something that denies that opportunity to students?
Under this line of thinking, what can we expect next from Mrs. Lafferty in her search for more and more financial cutbacks to our children's education programs? Asking the drama students to rent their own costumes for school plays? Making football players rent their own helmets, shoulder pads and uniforms? Require anyone taking a computer lab to rent their own computers and software?
Each year, several Hicksville High School students are recognized as premiere musicians in their various areas by being selected to highly prestigious All-New York State band, chorus and orchestra programs. Because of this level of accomplishment, many of these very same students are able to receive college scholarships and bring great visibility to Hicksville's outstanding fine arts program. But, under Mrs. Lafferty's suggestion, it is reasonable to assume that fewer and fewer students would be able to pursue music education - a tragedy for our students, our school district and for the entire Hicksville community.
Despite Mrs. Lafferty's assertion that "music, art and drama are an integral and very important part of our K-12 curriculum," her words suggest something quite the contrary. She seems bent on taking from one program to help fund other areas - a recipe for disaster and divisiveness. We all want to keep our educational programs as affordable as possible. But let's not make our children - and our community - the victims of shortsighted thinking that hurts everyone in Hicksville.