Fairfax Elementary String Teachers Score a Budget Victory
All the district’s music teachers kept their jobs
“As Fairfax County Public Schools goes, so goes the nation,” string teacher and advocate Mary Wagner said in February, quoting the late Ken Ellington of Ellington Strings, LLC. If Ellington’s twist on the old political adage is true, then string teachers can relax for the moment: Fairfax’s elementary string and band programs have been spared the ax.
Wagner and other string teachers came under pressure in the spring when district administrators planned to save $7 million in the district’s budget by cutting the music program. “Anything that we’re going to cut has to not be required by state law,” says Paul Regnier, Fairfax’s communication coordinator. “When things are really, really bad, [the string program] is always going to be out there.”
But Wagner, a past president of the American String Teachers Association, stuck to her guns. Parents were mobilized, rallies were organized, and Music in World Cultures consultant John Benham was called into action. In the end, all of the district’s music teachers kept their jobs and cuts were made elsewhere.