Dr. Larry Nyland, Superintendent of the Marysville School District, recently announced his retirement effective at the end of the current school year. Praise for his efforts at improving instruction and test scores in the district will no doubt be heaped on him prior to his leaving, and Dr. Nyland’s hard work and dedication to his vision certainly deserve to be acknowledged.
Yet, since 2004, decisions made by Marysville School District officials under Dr. Nyland’s supervision have resulted in the gutting of arts education programs district-wide.
A robust choral music program that at one time featured a full-time choir teacher and five performing choirs at M-PHS has been slashed to just one small choir at M-PHS and one at MGHS campus, plus a small choir that meets after school hours at Marysville Getchell. One thousand students in three smaller learning communities on the MG campus are not allowed to take choir during the school day even if they want to because of a “no crossovers” policy that allows only students in the International School of Communications to sign up for choir. Again, that is two choirs for 2,900 students.
The numbers for band and drama are equally appalling. The only band opportunities that exist at MGHS are a small jazz ensemble that meets before school, and a recently formed pep band that meets after school. There are no opportunities for students to act in plays or musical plays at Marysville Getchell, because drama programs do not exist there.
The situation in visual arts instruction is a little better, but not much. All four SLCs at Marysville Getchell offer at least one visual arts course, but most of these are entry-level drawing or graphics courses. No ceramics, advanced placement studio art, or similar upper-level visual arts courses are offered. The deterioration of opportunities to have music in the elementary schools is the worst in decades. Why don’t Marysville students deserve to study and grow through the arts? Why are they denied access to them (MGHS)?
I urge Marysville parents and citizens who care about the benefits of arts education to join in the process of selecting the new superintendent in the coming months. Now is the time to let your voices be heard.
Shouldn’t Marysville students have the same access to arts education as students in Arlington, Lake Stevens, Stanwood and Everett? Let’s choose a leader who will commit to bringing back a full, robust arts program, one that students and parents alike can take pride in.
Vernon Counsellor II