Music classes cut in Washington state over 'white supremacy' and 'institutional violence'

"We’re a school district that lives in and is entrenched in and is surrounded by white supremacy culture."

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
The Olympia School District in Washington state is planning to cut music classes it feels promote “white supremacy culture” and “significant institutional violence.”

The district, which is facing an $11.5 million budget shortfall, in an effort to save approximately $537,000, and fight racism, voted last week to eliminate band and strings for fourth-graders. 

During the meeting where the cuts were decided, School Board Director Scott Clifthorne conceded that research has proven music classes are “healthy for young minds,” but that they are disproportionately rolled out across the district’s elementary schools and as a result, students at some campuses are required to miss “core instruction” in order to attend the music classes, while other schools offer longer instrumental class time.  

Clifthorne added, “We also know that there are other folks in the community that experience things like a tradition of excellence as exclusionary. 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.” 

He added that there was nothing “intrinsically white supremacist” about string or instrumental music, but cautioned that 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.”

A spokesperson for the district told The New York Post that the cuts only applied to music elective students who were able to opt-in for the lessons in addition to their general classes. According to the spokesperson, the district will not be cutting any secondary music offerings, general elementary music, or fifth-grade band and strings. 

Parents are furious and told the outlet that the decision was “par for the course” for the public school board, which had previously allowed one of its elementary schools to ban white students from a “safe space” club.

The district, like many others across the state, is seeing shrinking enrollment, and recently, the board appointed Talauna Reed, a Black Lives Matter radical and Antifa ally to fill a vacant director position.

Reed declared f*** the police” at a July 2021 rally in Olympia and told rally attendees,  "It amazes me how those pigs can sit over there to watch us peacefully talk about what we want [to] change in this state. It amazes me. And they don’t pay attention until we tear sh*t up. So, before I get started, tear everything up in this f*cking city until they do what we want them to do," she also told the event attendees.

A mom of three in the district, Alesha Perkins told Fox News that there was “no evidence whatsoever” that the fourth-grade music classes contributed to white supremacy adding, “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.” 

The Olympia School District has not yet adopted the final budget.

Earlier this month, the Post Millennial obtained radical curricula developed by Washington Ethnic Studies Now (WAESN) that are used in public schools in Washington state and sold across the US.
In the music curriculum, no notes are taught, rather students are taught how music was used for "power and oppression."

Students are asked to answer questions such as, "How have notions of “musical validity” been informed by white supremacy & in what ways can curricular choices in music education be expanded to include a variety of aesthetic values, performance functions & knowledge transmission strategies as equal expressions of musicality?"

According to WAESN, "We teach the history of music in order to illustrate its connection to white supremacy and challenge and expand mainstream curriculum to disrupt the perpetuation of white supremacy."

"We connect musical practices to the development of nationalism and xenophobia through the adoption, exoticisation, or denigration of musical cultures."

Tracy Castro Gill, the "non-binary" "Xicanx" founder of the organization that designed the curriculum, was fired for "unprofessional behavior as the Ethnic Studies Manager for Seattle Public Schools. Yet the Washington State Board of Education & schools across the country pay over $11,000 for this material. 

Castro Gill attempted to keep this material and other content hidden by filing a restraining order to stop its release to the public. A Superior Court judge ruled earlier this month that the material should be released.

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