I'm with you except this: "or placing a struggling marcher on the movement of a backdrop screen, which removes the teaching aspect altogether."
You still have to teach that kid. They are still learning music and playing instruments in class. That prop gives the kid a chance to be part of the show instead of standing on the sideline or not participating. We have to have alternates, shouldn't we create a way for them to feel important and involved? Unless you are also proposing that we should be required to march every kid in the program, which if we are going to do that then no pass no play would also have to go away. That would be like telling a coach they can only have 11 kids on the roster and if any fail they just have to play shorthanded the rest of the season.
You are not far off base with this. With the rising costs, this will be here before you know it. I've actually had superintendents ask me about this, and what would have to be done to regulate it.
The problem with the money that is spent, is that it is getting further and further away from the "teaching" that makes these programs great. Design is starting to be rewarded over content.
Yeah, yeah, the argument about "even with all the props and perfect design, the show still has to be taught"....that's correct.....however, it is much easier to mask deficiencies in certain areas with a carefully placed prop, or a voice-over, or multiple minutes of synth repetition, or placing a struggling marcher on the movement of a backdrop screen, which removes the teaching aspect altogether.
And then there's "These communities are able to afford high fees associated with our program".....just because some of these communities CAN afford it, doesn't mean we should require them to pony up. Marching Band is becoming more expensive than Dance, Drill, and Cheer in some places. I bet you would see a direct correlation with the money that some schools spend from their budget, compared to the cost of those programs' student fees. In other words, it's not just tax payer money we are using to fund these costs.....we are actually hitting up these families TWICE by requiring student fees.
If we don't start getting these costs under control, someone will come in and do it for us.
Across the state, heck even within the bounds of a region, it is clearly evident that there is discrepancy among marching band programs regarding financing the end product. Is it time that directors and schools disclose how much money went to designers, props, special uniforms, special hats, music arrangers, professional drill-writers, contracted marching and front ensemble techs who aren't on staff, guard weapons, electronics, and such?
Dare I say that there should be a CAP on such expenses? (It's just increasing the equity gap.)