Your message comes across as very elitist.
If you've spent time in those "major metro area" districts, you know that success, for THOSE students, in THOSE circumstances, MAY BE a 2. Or even a 3. Or in some extreme cases, a 4 MAY BE a huge success.
As a band director in one of those districts, I can tell you: Scheduling is an issue. Practicing is an issue. Quality of equipment is an issue. Getting kids to simply show up to school/class
is an issue. There is little administrative support to fix these issues because they're concerned about not getting the school/district taken over by the state due to too many failing schools.
As for admin: who wants to be an admin in a school where you're pretty well guaranteed to have a consistent stream of failures, year in and year out, in both grades and achievement? You will rarely get the "best and brightest" in those situations. Same with the teachers - I've seen dozens of incredibly competent teachers who hit the door at the end of one year because they simply can't deal with the needs of the student body here. Some even choose to leave teaching altogether.
That being said, I don't know a single inner-city fine arts admin that legitimately thinks their band programs, with the exceptions of magnet programs and the RARE perennially successful program, belong as honor band candidates or Midwest performers. Make decent to good scores at UIL competition, yes, but on my stipend agreement, there is no line for "Record for honor band" as a requirement.
That being said, if I were to build up that level of quality, they would expect that - and trumpet the success of the program.
All in all, the biggest drawbacks to success in inner city high school programs is inconsistent and/or poor teaching at the middle school level, which is largely caused by inexperienced/ineffective teachers and poor scheduling. Those big city bands that do well at UIL do so because they have middle school programs that do well at UIL. When my students come to me knowing - sort of - how to perform the Bb scale, and that's it, with an uncharacteristic and disgusting tone quality, after three years of instruction, you can blame every step in the process along the way.
But when those kids can put it together and get a 2 at UIL? OR even a 3? Why is that not success?
I'm content with getting 2s and 3s because, honestly, those kids never earn higher than 3s and 4s at their feeders. I'd love to push to a 1, but that requires more resources (kid commitment, parent support, instruments that aren't falling apart, instruments that physically exist so kids don't have to share, etc). Am I a bad director because I realistically teach those those kids with more than a year's growth
in one year?
Seriously. Inner city life isn't for everyone, but "come to this district to die" and "no way of building a program" is only correct if you expect it to work like it does in the suburbs. Temper your expectations and find success where success happens. If your ego requires that you be an honor band director, go someplace where the parents are willing to fund it. It ain't 95% of the campuses in big districts in the major metro areas.
I'm sure this could apply to several districts in the large metro areas where poverty is thick.
I definitely feel directors come to this district to die.
Poor admin across the board. From the very top all the way down. The campus is a zoo.
Unrealistic demands and expectations. I understand setting a high bar but these schools all have failing TEA grades and you expect the bands to win Honor Band and go to Midwest????
Awful scheduling! There's no way of building a program.
The thing that makes me so mad here is that teachers are only here to make admin look good and get zero credit. That's all subject areas. They get zero support and get blamed for all the school issues.
They run off great teachers/directors. Meanwhile the consistent division 2/3/4 director is just content having a job.
Sound like my first position back in the mid-90s, almost word for word.
1. I had a budget, but was never allowed to see it so I could plan accordingly. Was always told, "Just do POs until I tell you to stop." When I stressed that it was important for me to see what money I had to work with, I was told, "You're NOT GOING TO SEE THE BUDGET. Unless you want to be written up for insubordination, I suggest you stop asking for it."
2. I was required to take them to UIL (1C MS by myself...long story). When it came time to do the PO for the entry, I was told, "You're out of money. You are going to have to pay for the entry fee out of your own pocket. No...you ARE taking the band to UIL."
3. Administration became completely unhinged in a BAD way that the band got a 122/222 at UIL. Did I mention that this was the first time in 12 years they DIDN'T get 555/555?
4. The only decent thing the principal did was tell me this:, "You need to resign." I asked why, and he said, "You went over budget and your UIL ratings were low."
And they wonder why TEA is now in control of the district.
Budget (or lack of)
Unrealistic expectations (especially compared to budget)
Unnecessary and excessive paperwork requirements
Poor scheduling/recruiting support
Poor pay - though this is really at the bottom of the list.
I'm thinking of my first job - puny budget (you spent more on your marching show this year than my annual budget was), too many restrictions on fundraising to supplement that budget, spending money required a byzantine process that nobody could explain to me, I got flack for not bringing home Div I (they had not seen a Div I in years, and I did improve the scores since the previous year), it was just stupidity all around. I only lasted a year there.
Iím starting to see a pattern of certain schools that always post. Sadly, I took one of these positions late this summer. What are some of the qualities that make a place where it is hard to be a band director?
Iíll post a few from my current situation in one of these:
1) schools that allow mob control
2) schools that constantly micro manage
3) schools that donít back up those placed in a position of leadership
Keep it going...might help people have questions for their future bosses in the interview process.