BUT IT’S FOR THE CHIIIILDREN!!!!

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My daughter is in band. She’s been in band since sixth grade and she has loved band all the way through. It has given her a place to exist in the shark tank of high school. Most of her friends are in band, the boys she has dated are in band, the band room has been her home away from home, and the director is her favorite teacher.

A couple of weeks ago, the director was suspended and forced into early retirement next February because of “ethics” charges filed by one parent. I put “ethics” in parenthesis because this is the most UNethical series of events I have ever been witness to, and I watch the news.

I have been wanting to write about this since it happened, but I had to let it percolate for a while because the situation made and continues to make me so angry that if I didn’t take some time, it would’ve come out sounding crazy and disjointed and that is not one of my hallmarks in this world. I realized that it was time a couple of days ago when I woke up one morning to discover that I had been organizing my thoughts in my head while I was asleep. Weird I know, but it’s how I roll. Anyway, these are my true, and honest thoughts, and I plan to disseminate this as far and wide as I can, including sending it to school bureaucrats, so here goes.

ChristopherLydia-065-lbO

Dear School Board, Principal, and other involved persons,

I am writing you today with regard to the recent suspension of our high school band director. I know, I know, you’ve heard all you want to hear; it’s a “personnel issue” and we aren’t supposed to talk about it anymore; blah, blah, blah… Sadly, I don’t really care whether or not you want to hear it, you need to listen, because I have some things to say that I’m pretty sure no one else has said to you because most people are afraid of their own shadows and wouldn’t say sh*t if they had a mouthful. I am not one of those people. This ceased to be a “personnel issue” when what should’ve been private papers between an employee and their employer were made grotesquely public; as a band parent and a taxpayer, when that happened, it became MY issue.

I could go on and on about what a great teacher our director is, but I know you’ve heard it all already. I could tell you how much the majority of kids like/love the director, but you’ve heard that all before. I could point out that the charges are ridiculous, that situations have been ever so slightly twisted to make them into something when they are really nothing, but again, that would be redundant. I could make a case that every teacher, regardless of what they teach or the grade level they teach, tutor students on their own time and get paid for it and if you are going to censure one teacher, you need to get busy and censure everyone else. I could add commentary about band clinics vs. sports clinics, about how the board has a say in everyone who is hired to work with our kids, so there should’ve been no way that they didn’t know who was hired to work with the trombone section during band camp. I could say a lot about ALL of those things, but I don’t think I will, because I’m a fan of original, critical thought and I don’t want to repeat what has already been said. Instead, I’m going off on a completely different path. Money.

I have lived in my home for twelve years as of May 1st. In those twelve years, my property taxes have doubled. Much of that doubling is due to school tax levies. Yeah, yeah, we went a few election cycles without getting one passed, but in the end, they get passed and they are usually whoppers. Not long after we first moved in here, I had to pull my daughter from dance lessons because our taxes went up so much that I could no longer afford lessons for MY kid, due to having to increase funding to the schools. I didn’t like that. Haven’t forgotten it. But in my suburban mom fog, I voted for the damn thing, because well, THE CHILDREN!!

In the twelve years I have lived in my home, I’ve had school busing taken from my kids. The high school decided that learning German, the language of the most powerful country in Europe, was no longer an option, because I suppose, we have a huge population of future priests and doctors in my community who need to learn Latin, but very few aspiring business people for whom the German language might come in handy some day. The art department is in the process of being gutted because well, art. Ewww… Who needs that? Oh right, only the kids who’s entire talent base lies in that direction. Future art school applicants and graduates apparently do not have the right to an education that includes the things they are good at. News flash!! There actually ARE kids who want to go into some form of art for a career. A mom friend of mine actually had to email the principal about an unpaid bill for metals supplies so that MORE supplies could be purchased so the kids could do the projects they needed to do at the end of the year. I’ve seen the giant stadium lights burning during a gushing rainstorm, over CHRISTMAS BREAK, adding to the electric bill, yet we are on the precipice of bankruptcy as a district. When I first started substitute teaching, I filled in for a kindergarten teacher who was leaving for a teaching symposium in Italy. The country. In Europe. I guess they don’t have those things right up the road in say, Columbus. Gotta go to Italy. Our district has built a beautiful new administration building since I moved into my home. I guess that was for the children. Of course it was. I could go on, but I’m certain you get my drift. Take more money, cut out things people need and want because well, the children.

Our band program and our band director have meant everything to my daughter. He has taught her far more important things than how to play a French Horn and roll step. He has taught her to be on time, “early is on time, on time is late…”; he has taught her to try her best, “good, better, best, never let it rest until your good is better and your better best.”; he has taught her that when she is hot and thirsty and sunburnt at band camp and feels like she’s going to die, that if she goes and gets a big drink of water she can do it one more time. He’s taught her that things are more fun if you’re good at them and that practicing and trying and working your butt off pays off. He’s had really high expectations of her, and he has demanded that she meet them. He’s called her out in front of everyone else, and praised her when she’s done well. He’s taught my daughter to be respectful of others, and he’s taught her to strive and have self-respect and joy in a job well done. She has more poise, confidence, discipline, self-respect, drive and maturity than she would have ever had without band. These are all qualities that my husband and I instill at home and having them re-iterated by a respected teacher is priceless. He doesn’t even know he’s helping us. He’s just doing his job. Isn’t that what an educator is supposed to do?

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She’s a senior. She has three weeks of school left. He is not coming back until the last week she’s there. He’s been suspended because someone apparently had an axe to grind. I don’t know why, I can only speculate and I won’t do that here. I WILL say that I saw in writing the person responsible say the kids come first. I agree.

Suspending our director doesn’t just hurt him. In fact, if I were him, I’d be on a plane to Florida to spend my two weeks in the proverbial principal’s office on the beach, but I doubt that’s what he’ll do. He’ll start working on next season’s marching band show, or think of ways to improve the bands for their concerts, or ways to help kids learn to try their best. The REAL people being punished over this pointless mess are the children. The ones all the government bureaucrats (and lets be honest, public schools are an extension of the government) purport to always put first. Instead of spending the last three weeks of her senior year enjoying herself, my daughter got in the car today and said she’s done. She told me that band was the only thing that she truly loved about school, and now that he’s gone, it’s no longer the band she loves. Shame on you “put the children first” adults. Shame. On. You.

So what do I want? I want you to rescind the suspension. Let him come back to school immediately to spend these last few weeks with kids who have looked up to him and learned from him and spent so much time with him these last three years. You’ve already pushed him out three months early next year, that’s enough. Quality educators need to be in the classroom. Why should you all care what I want? Next paragraph.

I’ve had it with this school district cutting everything that my kids enjoy. I’m sick of the band having to practice in a dark parking lot because the doc gets on the nerves of the soccer coach who is practicing on the next field. I’m sick of politics and political people. I’m sick of paying over 4000$ a year in property taxes and it’s never enough. I’m sick of the football team getting a giant inflatable football helmet (where’d the money for that come from, hmmm?) and our kids barely get a mention when they win every competition they go to and when they leave for nationally acclaimed parades like Macy’s. I’m sick of all the attention going to jocks who play on a local stage, while our musicians who play on national stages and attract loads of positive attention to our school district get ignored. I’m sick of keeping my mouth shut. The squeaky wheel gets the grease so they say, and I feel mighty rusty. I’ve lived in this community for twelve years. I’ve subbed in the schools and volunteered in the schools, and with scouts, and church. I know a LOT of people. I’ve always voted for the schools, even though it’s bankrupting me. I’ve always supported, for the children. But it has gotten me nowhere. If my daughter has to finish out her senior year without this teacher who has meant the world to her, I will never vote for another school levy in this district ever again. In fact, I will contact the No Lakota people and volunteer for them. I will actively campaign against every levy that comes down the pike. In fact, I may call for an investigation of every school board we’ve had for the last twenty years who let everything that is supposedly so horrible happen. Where have you administrators been for twenty years? If everything our director has done has been wrong, who is not doing their due diligence? It seems to me that would be the administrators.

ChristopherLydia-063-lbO

Please don’t force me into politics. I hate it, but if I HAVE to get involved to right wrongs, and reverse injustices, I will. Free Snyder. Give my daughter back the happiness that band has always given her. Let her graduate on an up note. Do what you say you do, and think of the kids. I’m not alone. I spent an hour and a half trying to get out of Kroger on Saturday afternoon because I kept running into band parents who agree with me. There were two hundred and seventy five kids in band last year. Multiply that over 28 years of service this man has had in our district. Multiply THAT by at least two parents per kid, many have three or four, and remember; band kids grow up and turn into adults who go to the polls. That is a mighty big voting block. Remember, it’s for the children.

No justice, no more of MY MONEY.

Have a day.

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20 thoughts on “BUT IT’S FOR THE CHIIIILDREN!!!!

  1. You are so ignorant. I understand where your complaint is coming from, but you can not honestly say that the band director has done nothing wrong. You are completely biased towards him because your daughter loves him so much. Understand that you are so wrong when you say that band and the arts are the only programs getting hit by levies not passing because fees for sports programs have sky rocketed along with busing and coaching that has been reduced for all sports. Do your research before publicly coming out with your ignorant opinions.

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    1. Perhaps YOU need to do your research before you insult someone you don’t know. I did not say that the band and art programs are the only ones hit by money troubles, in fact, I did not comment at all on actual cuts that have been made because of levy failures. You need to re-read the post more carefully. Marching Band fees are the same as sports fees because it is considered a sport. The problem is, Marching Band is not afforded the same respect by administrators that the more traditional sports programs receive, I know this to be fact because I have spent countless hours at practices, camps and perfomances. I have been living in this community for twelve years, my children go to these schools and I pay enormous property taxes and hundreds of dollars in school fees each and every year in this school district. I know EXACTLY what I’m talking about, and I will continue to talk about it. If I thought the band director had done something wrong, I would not defend him. He is a big part of the lives of hundreds of kids each year, and if I thought that he was behaving in any way whatsoever that was illegal or unethical, I would NOT support him, BECAUSE my daughter likes him so much. I would make sure to explain to her what was wrong and that sometimes our loyalties are misdirected and we don’t know it. I am forever amazed at people who cannot discuss issues without becoming personally abusive to people who do not agree with them.

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  2. Wonderful letter !!! I have 3 grown children and a son in law,who all went through the band program at lakota west . All of my kids and my husband and my self know that the best thing going at that school is the band program . My children all look up to Greg Snyder as a wonderful band director , but even more so as a beloved role model. My daughters can’t talk and reminisce about their days in band without tearing up ,and those are tears of fondness for all the great memories of times in band , and of course Greg Snyder .
    As far as money goes ? I know for a fact ,that when my son – in-law moved here from Texas , the beginning of his junior year in high school , his parents chose a home in liberty twp. Solely for the fact they wanted their son in the best band program available . They came from a superior marching band program in Texas ( marching band is a very big thing down there ,very competitive) His parents checked several schools including Mason,met with band directors and quickly realized it had to be Lakota West ! The rest is history,because my daughter met him at band camp the summer he moved here.
    My point being I’m sure this family is not the only family who made sure to buy a house in lakota west district because of the band program .!!
    To the mom who wrote this letter I’ll be happy to help you in future vote no campaigns if the administration does not correct this mighty big wrong !!

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  3. Thanks for sharing. My husband and I couldn’t agree more. We are 20 years past Upbeat Club involvement, but have followed the band for years. The positive influence of Greg Snyder on our daughters continues yet today. Can’t say that about the chemistry teacher who showed the TV show 911 as a lesson plan or the math teacher who used pre-algebra time to go over his line up for the soccer game after school.

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  4. Wonderful letter !!! My 3 grown children and one son in law all went through the band program at lakota west . They will all tell anybody that the band program was the best thing about their school years there. My husband and I too feel the same . The music education was second to none, and Greg Snyder was a beloved role model to them all . I always knew there would never be a problem or question of morals when they were with the band under Mr. Snyder’s charge. When my daughters speak of their fond memories of times with the band,they always wind up with tears in their eyes.
    As for the money , I know for a fact that up to this point ,there have been people who buy homes in West Chester for the sole purpose of being in the Lakota West band program. My son-in-law moved here from Texas the beginning of his junior year in high school. He was coming from a stellar band program in Texas with a superior marching band program. The marching band competitions is big stuff down there. His parents did their homework and shopped for a high school with a similar program. They spoke to the different band directors in the Cincinnati area including Mason. It was not hard for them to make their decision. They bought a house in liberty township for the sole purpose of being in Lakota West school district for the band program. Which in essence brought me my wonderful son-in-law ! I also know that all of my children have voiced they will purchase homes in the Lakota West school district when their children are of school age,because they want them to go through the same excellent music program if their children choose the path of music.
    I stand with the mom who wrote this letter. If this terrible wrong is not corrected ,my voting will change in the future, and I too will join her in working with the committees for any future vote no levy. I also agree an investigation of the administration for the past 20 years is a superb idea.!!
    One last note. I remember several years ago Greg Snyder receiving a very impressive award. I can’t remember the name of the award ,but what I do remember is the value of the award. It was an award where Greg Snyder was basically inducted into The Hall of Fame of directors nationwide. He was the first ever and only director inducted from the high school level. This Hall of fame includes many famous conductors including John Philip Sousa ! I am sure that this award is researched thoroughly before they choose their inductee each year. Lakota west has been very lucky all these years to have such a wonderful man to develop the band program to what it is today, and more importantly to be a moral compass to so many children over the years.
    Thank you Mr. Snyder your better has ALWAYS been best !!

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    1. Sorry for the two letters . I thought I clicked the wrong thing on first letter and did not post. Hence I retyped a new letter after sleeping on it ,and I like my second letter even better !

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  5. Amen to that! I am a Lakota West band alumni. I graduated from West in 06′ as did my husband. We met in marching band and got engaged on Wright States field a few years after graduating seeing as that’s where band camp was. We have now been married 3 years and have a baby on the way. We have always planned on our children going to Lakota mainly for the band program. I have voted yes on levy’s to protect our band. We have bought a house right on the outside of West Chester with the plans of moving when our children are school age so they can be a part of the wonderful band program that my husband and I so dearly love. You better believe we will be looking at different options now. I can no longer respect a school system who has dragged a most beloved teacher through the mud publicly. I will continue to support Mr. Snyder. You have lost one more family from moving to the Lakota district.

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  6. You speak TRUTH Band Mom! As I look at all the facts spelled out on the http://www.SupporLakotaBands.com website, it’s jaw-dropping to see how the school board could be so grossly negligent in their duties to conduct a fair and unbiased investigation. It is crystal clear that they were afraid of one outraged parent who is now isolated and alone. It wasn’t even lawful what they did! This not only affects the band program, but good luck to Lakota as they search for future quality teachers willing to teach in such a vitriolic environment. I will be at the board meeting Monday night. It’s important for the school board to know that they need to admit their mistakes and make this right. This will not go away until they do!

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  7. I am a band father, both of my daughters are/were in our local high school band. Being in the band heavily influenced their experiences in a positive way as their admittance into National Honor Society attests.

    Several years ago, my youngest daughter played in the regional honor band. I would say 40-50% of the musicians came from the Lakota school district. I can’t remember if it was an audition or recital but we went to Lakota for another regional honor band event. I was amazed at the rooms (plural!) the band had for their use. It impressed me what a great and dedicated band director Lakota must have.

    Following your FB and blog posts, I was sickened by the complete lack of justice your band director has received. I’m not a Lakota parent and don’t even live in the same county but I can tell a witch-hunt when I see one. It is obvious that the school board gathered its information without the band director having a chance to first speak to the allegations. They then went about determining his fate without him or at least a representative present. When he was called in, they had already made up their mind his was guilty. He most likely was given the ultimatum of either retiring or being terminated. No chance for any other course of action, he was only given a Hobson’s choice.

    I commend you for your efforts at defending this incredible musician and educator against the groupthink of the anonymous school board. The whole matter smacks of envy and jealousy of a single teacher who has such wide base of support and positive influence on so many students. He is dangerous in the minds of the school board and therefore they have decided to get rid of him. The school board’s lack of response to you and all of the other parents who have voiced their support of the band director is just reprehensible!

    I fear this is a prelude to eliminating or at least greatly reducing the band program at Lakota. Perhaps I’m wrong but having worked in the military and higher education, the signs are all too familiar. First vilify that which you wish to cut, then eliminate them as anonymously as possible (we’ve reorganized and your services are no longer required), finally show your higher ups how much you saved by cutting said personnel/program.

    This so flies in the face of everything that speaks to the importance of young people being involved in music, the discipline they learn from being in band, the camaraderie and pride they develop from rehearsals, and finally the character these young musicians will have for the rest of their lives. From what I have read, your school board is a bunch of hypocrites who should be ashamed of how they have handled this matter. I don’t mean just the band director but how they have ignored the parents and students. Keep up all of your efforts!
    I am a band father, both of my daughters are/were in our local high school band. Being in the band heavily influenced their experiences in a positive way as their admittance into National Honor Society attests.

    Several years ago, my youngest daughter played in the regional honor band. I would say 40-50% of the musicians came from the Lakota school district. I can’t remember if it was an audition or recital but we went to Lakota for another regional honor band event. I was amazed at the rooms (plural!) the band had for their use. It impressed me what a great and dedicated band director Lakota must have.

    Following your FB and blog posts, I was sickened by the complete lack of justice your band director has received. I’m not a Lakota parent and don’t even live in the same county but I can tell a witch-hunt when I see one. It is obvious that the school board gathered its information without the band director having a chance to first speak to the allegations. They then went about determining his fate without him or at least a representative present. When he was called in, they had already made up their mind his was guilty. He most likely was given the ultimatum of either retiring or being terminated. No chance for any other course of action, he was only given a Hobson’s choice.

    I commend you for your efforts at defending this incredible musician and educator against the groupthink of the anonymous school board. The whole matter smacks of envy and jealousy of a single teacher who has such wide base of support and positive influence on so many students. He is dangerous in the minds of the school board and therefore they have decided to get rid of him. The school board’s lack of response to you and all of the other parents who have voiced their support of the band director is just reprehensible!

    I fear this is a prelude to eliminating or at least greatly reducing the band program at Lakota. Perhaps I’m wrong but having worked in the military and higher education, the signs are all too familiar. First vilify that which you wish to cut, then eliminate them as anonymously as possible (we’ve reorganized and your services are no longer required), finally show your higher ups how much you saved by cutting said personnel/program.

    What risks being lost is the importance of young people being involved in music, the discipline they learn from being in band, the camaraderie and pride they develop from rehearsals, and finally the character these young musicians will have for the rest of their lives. From what I have read, your school board is a bunch of hypocrites who should be ashamed of how they have handled this matter. I don’t mean just the treatment of the band director but how they have ignored the parents and students concerns. Keep up all of your efforts!

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  8. My children were very successful members of the Lakota Band program but our family never held Mr. Snyder in high esteem. Although I understand he has many supporters there are also many, many people who never felt comfortable with his teaching methods. He would ridicule students and was often rude to students. Teachers know what the rules are and he broke the rules. The school would not bring these allegations without proof. There were many other band directors in the program that added a great deal to the success of the program.

    And, as a side note – the teachers who went to Italy paid for a large part of the trip with their own money. I am proud to support a district that strives to help teachers learn and observe some of the best teaching practices in the world. The teachers who went to Italy also spent a good deal of their own time in study groups and workshops to share all they learned.

    There are many opinions when an event like this happens and feelings run strong. Of course people should stand up and fight for what they feel is the right and fair thing to do. That is why I am writing this comment. I feel the school board made the right decision.

    I wish your daughter the best for the future.

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    1. The school didn’t bring the charges, one member of the booster club brought them, but it’s ok at this point, it’s all over. The Marching Band had another very successful season, and a former student of Mr. Snyder’s is taking over as Director, which gives those of us who are interested in the continuing excellence of the program hope for it’s continuation. I’m very glad to be part of a district that helps teachers learn and observe great teaching practices and I’m glad they used some of their own money to go to Italy; however, when you are spending tax payer money, there are many, many, excellent continuing education opportunities right here in the US, that would cost those tax payers a lot less money. In addition, optics count. When you stop to think that the district comes to us over and over again for more money and then spends it sending teachers to Italy, it tends to rub people who find out about it the wrong way. Thank you for being courteous.

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