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These articles were written by Pete Van Alstyne, owner of Pete's Music Center.

To Whom It May Concern:

I just received an email via the director of Sierra Mountain Music Camp titled "An Urgent Letter from CMEA Concerning Music Education in California." CMEA and many other similar organizations provide extremely valuable information and are directed by (obviously) very highly- educated individuals who care about the long term direction of Performing Arts Education throughout America, BUT who do not realize that one cannot effectively negotiate with Government politicians and educational bureaucrats without leverage. On a percentage basis, how many students today are enrolled in the Performing Arts Programs in California public schools compared to 6 years ago? At least in Yuba and Sutter Counties, much fewer!

There is a point where information ( however detailed and well-intended) is worthless in striving to acquire a goal-where EVERY enrolled child in America has the opportunity to academically explore one or more of the Performing Arts starting in 3rd grade DURING the curriculum day. < In China, whose academic and technical educational improvements over the past 2 decades are very well recognized, mandatory piano, accordion or violin lessons are government-sponsored at age 3.>

As a 28 year veteran of the music retail and service industry, I have been in conflict with the local school board Trustees and Administrators for at least 15 years over the above subject. I have found that in any serious negotiation, a lack of leverage is not advantageous----BEGGING falls on deaf ears! ! I have also learned that those students involved in the Performing Arts occupy the top 10% of the student body in not only grades, SAT scores in their junior and senior high school years, but most appropriately for this issue, they are also the top performers on the NCLB tests.

The information that CMEA or other similar organizations distribute concerning the latest financial strategies of State and Federal Bureaucrats and Politicians is only that-informative. It does little or nothing for Jose who speaks limited English in XX Unified SD and is denied the opportunity to play the trumpet in the school band because he is forced to take an extra period of English each school day. It is time to ask the parents for support through a strong public relations campaign via the internet and TV.

What would happen to the funding for every California School District that is denying minimum Performing Arts opportunities to their students by 3rd grade in the estimation of the informed parents, if a majority of those parents waived their children OUT of the STAR test? Even the hint of such a promotion makes the most-hardened NCLB Advocate stammer!!!

There is your leverage-use it or keep begging!


Peter Van Alstyne



Published in Appeal Democrat, 7-5-08

Dear Editor,

Again this morning at my daily reading of the A-D, I noticed another reference to the concerns of local gang crimes in Yuba City. Mayor Ramirez and Mr. Jeffrey must not realize that a high local social crime rate doesn't just materialize out of thin air. I find it comical for Mayor Ramirez to approach the YC City Council about reactively attempting to lower the incidences of drugs, gang violence and drive-by shootings that often take place in our small Sacramento Valley community.

A high crime rate is a result of collective family, social and educational inadequacies. Just a couple of weeks ago, the A-D published a rather obscure article concerning the truancy rates at three of the local high schools-Marysville HS rated at .11%, Lindhurst HS at 11% and Yuba City HS at a whopping 34%. In my opinion, no degree of reactive law enforcement short of public floggings will lower the present trends.

On the other hand, I would suggest that Mayor Ramirez call Yuba City School Superintendent Nancy Aaberg and Vice-Superintendent Baldev Johal into his office and ask them a few serious questions about the present enrollment figures of Vocational, Industrial and Performing Arts Classes in the two Yuba City High Schools ON A PERCENTAGE BASIS compared to 8 years ago. Is it possible that the YCUSD's present No- Child- Left- Behind curricular emphasis is contributing to the local youth crime rate? Should we not give our students reasons to stay in school for all 12 years in promoting personal accomplishment and self-esteem? Should we promote high truancy and dropout rates by STAR testing students and branding each one with a test score so that YCUSD can gain revenue for overpaid administrators who do not even fairly pay our teachers when their contract expires?

Support your local community by contacting your School Board Trustee-- demand a well-rounded education, not a Test-based revenue machine. Read to your children, get to know their school instructors and supervise assigned homework completion.


Peter Van Alstyne