Filed under: Domestic Policy, Education, Freedom, Music, Politics | Tags: 13 Year-Old Musical Prodigy, DC School System Truant, Mindless Bureaucracy
Avery Gagliano has been playing the piano since she was five years old. She was a straight A student at Alice Deal Middle School, and the Jack Kent Cook Honors Scholarship recipient at the Levin School of Music. She was chosen to join 11 other musicians from around the world to play in Munich last year at the Lang Lang Foundation Junior Camp.
Avery’s parents tried to persuade the school system to excuse her travels, when she was chosen by the Foundation to tour the world as an international music ambassador. Her parents created a portfolio of her musical achievements and academic record, and drafted an independent study plan for the days she would miss while touring the world.
In March, Avery traveled to Connecticut for a piano competition. She won the Grand Prix award for her performance of a Chopin Waltz and when she returned to school —a truancy officer was called. D.C. bureaucrats label any student with 10 “unexcused absences” as a truant. The truancy law gives school officials the option of deciding what an unexcused absence is. Not for a very young piano prodigy. Rules are rules and all that. The truancy office and the school wouldn’t budge. Here she is in Munich last year.
Avery has been forced to spend her eighth grade year as a homeschooler, and the Gaglianos are not happy.
“We decided to home-school her because of all the issues, because it was like a punch in the gut to have to face the fight again this year,” Gagliano told the Post. “We didn’t want to do this. We want to be part of the public school system. Avery has been in public school since kindergarten. She’s a great success story for the schools.”
Avery’s accolades include studying in the Inaugural Lang Lang Junior Music Camp in Munich, Germany, as well as under Dr. Veda Kaplinsky at the Aspen Music Festival. She was also featured in a NPR broadcast program “From The Top” and a two-hour PBS documentary titled “Arts and the Mind” that was broadcast nationwide. All the awards would not convince the D.C. public schools to recognize or reward Avery’s talent. But a little publicity did.
After a column about Avery was published in The Washington Post, Chancellor Kaya Henderson issued a statement saying the column was wrong and they would like to have Avery back at Alice Deal Middle School. They claimed they had excused Avery’s absences for international travel. But during summer vacation the family received another letter telling them their daughter was truant, and enclosed a helpful brochure on the possible police and Child and Family Services intervention for students who are truant.
We have all been reading and clucking over the idiocy coming out of our public school systems. It hardly seems a week goes by without another case being reported. What is clear is that school administrators need some remedial training in plain old common sense. It seems to be missing. Political correctness and mindless adherence to regulations is the order of the day—from children who are suspended for chewing a pop tart into a gun shape (or the state of Idaho) to punishing prodigies for their excellence. It goes on and on.
Let’s hear it for home schooling and charter schools. If the public schools cannot do a decent job of educating the next generation—fire them.