School Economics

my hubby took me out on a date last night.  It was to one his schools that he does computer work at.  It's a jr high and they put on the Disney Little Mermaid (jr) version.  At first glance, it seemed like they were going to do a cute job.  As it started and progressed, I could tell that they'd spent a lot of money and time on the costumes and sets. 
It also seemed like every kid in the school was in the production.  There were lots of dancers and chorus people.  It was interesting how despite the amount of people, there wasn't a lot of voice.  The girl that played the part of Ursula, the sea witch, was amazing.  She was probably the best thing about the show.
It saddened me the most to see the sponsorship of the play.  There were two pages of sponsors listed, and it started with $1000 donations.  $1000 for a school production???  Really? I mean, it looked like they garnered over $10,000 for this school production.  Once they started and we saw the costumes, I saw why. 
Now, I'm not one to say get rid of the arts.  I'm an artist, I paint, I write, I sang in school - though it never would have occured to me to participate in something that big.  But I think the arts have a place in our schools.  I would even say athletics have a part, because I think it helps students to think in terms of team and sportsmanship.  Unfortunately, there is as much money thrown into sports as there is into everything else. 
But especially this show.  I still can't believe it.  We are talking professional costumes.  These would have rivaled Tuachan, and there was a mention of thanks to them as well.
My husband and I both work for school districts.  We both have seen the crunch of budgets with the cuts in spending.  I work in special ed, he works in technology.  His district is smaller than mine, but his district spends a heck of a lot more on technology than mine does.  Not that we have outdated stuff or anything, and there has been an influx of Ipads in almost all the schools, but still...
None of the schools in my district would have been able to put on this production.  There simply isn't that kind of money.  Yes, we have our affluent neighborhoods, but nothing like that.
We saw a production of the Scarlet Pimpernel last month at a high school.  It had excellent costumes, though I thought they might have been made by the parents - they weren't perfect.  The sets were good, but I think they were done by the students.  Which is as it should be.
I remember seeing a production of Aieda at Davis several years ago.  Now that I think about it, the costumes were pretty ritzy - but apparently that didn't bother me then.  It wasn't as large a production as this jr high's was.
Our discussion focused on how a west side school would never be able to pull of that kind of production.  They would never have that kind of support.  My hubby mentioned that one of the vice prinicpals came to one of the west side schools from an east one.  The east one they used to hold art auction once a year and they funded everything for the year.  This new school they have to sell popcorn every week.  All of my elementary schools have candy and popcorn sales once a week to raise funds.
I have no idea what the high schools do, or the jr highs.
We went to a production my niece was in several years ago in her jr high.  They did the jr Disney Aladin.  It was cute - they did a good job.  But it had nothing for sets and costumes like this other school did.  It was obvious that it was a school play, not trying to be a professional production.
It's sad when you think about it.
Are these kids thinking that they have to do a production like this??  Was it pushed by the director or the parents?  And what about when they get to high school?  Are they going to be disappointed in the drama department then?  What are they going to expect from life?
Oh well.  It seems that nothing really changes.  Everything is run by the almighty coin.
It's still sad.
It would be so much fun to see a west side school pull off something like that and see the kids take interest in something outside of gangs, poverty and the like.
you think?


L. Taggart said…
I attended our local play last week to support some girls I know. They were quite proud of themselves and had a great time, though it was very obvious that it was a low budget production. The teacher in charge must have said, "Everyone have a black shirt and pants? Great. That's your costume." For Mulan, it worked. They tied different colored fabrics around their waists for the different parts played. They must have had a budget of $50 for the whole thing. What a difference!

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