Amid all the controversies about budget cuts, school closings and layoffs, sometimes we should just sit back and celebrate some of the exemplary teachers and terrific kids that make up NYC schools. Unfortunately even the wonderful performance of PS 22 in Staten Island at the Oscars has been politicized. While Daily News columnist Michael Daly used veteran chorus director Gregg Breinberg as an example for getting rid of “last in, first out” layoff rules, it was LIFO that led Breinberg to PS 22 in the first place, as Gotham Schools points out.
But never mind; here is what Mel Meer, a parent leader in Queens, writes about that performance and then watch it yourself. See also what Doug Israel of the Center for Arts Education wrote about this event and how it reveals the need for more arts in the schools :
The kids from Staten Island's PS 22 closed the Oscar performance with a beautiful, fully harmonized, rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
Their performance exceeds, by a wide margin, the standards for elementary music set forth by the DOE. It certainly exceeds, by even a wider margin, anything I have heard in two local elementary schools in middle to upper-middle class Northeastern Queens.
Kids are often capable of much more than we ask of them. They are evidently led by a dedicated teacher encouraging their performance to a high level for their ages. This also, unfortunately, illustrates by the exception what we are losing in the arts because of the test-prep mentality of the current system.
See the performance, if you haven't already done so below.
-- Melvyn Meer