ASBURY, Ala. -- The superintendent of the Marshall County Schools system made a decision to replace the band in a student-led fundraiser concert citing concerns about appropriateness, which prompted a slew of opinions from folks for and against the move.
The Velcro Pygmies was founded in 1990. The band was slated to play an in-school concert at Asbury High School on November 5 as the culmination of a nine-week free educational program called Reach and Teach.
The program gives students real-world experiences in planning and executing all phases of a concert at their school, complete with a curriculum that helps students through the process.
"It's a program that brings in project-based learning and that's exactly what we want our teachers to be doing," said Superintendent Cindy Wigley.
The administration approved the program, which included the band, months ago. They learned about it at a state conference. "Since it was offered there and promoted by the State Department, then we felt like it had been vetted," Wigley explained.
But, Wigley said recently several parents called with concerns about the band, so she looked it up. "The band has material online that is not suitable for our audience," Wigley said. She added that included foul language and adult content. As a result, she decided to pull the band.
Wigley said she understands the show during school hours would be appropriate. "However, we also know the first thing that students do when they hear about something new is they Google or they go online to do more research about the band, and so we certainly don't want them coming across that material," Wigley explained, "We're not going to provide a link to that kind of material."
"It's very disappointing," said parent Casey Templeton. He has two kids who go to Asbury High School. Templeton said the students worked hard on the program, and getting a new band isn’t the same. He doesn't agree with Wigley's decision. "It's no different than showing movies of Shrek than kids going home and see Eddie Murphy do standup, you know?" he said, "That’s not something that should make a decision, you know?”
Wigley, who is up for re-election in two weeks, said she's heard opinions from folks for and against her decision. She says some people are threatening to vote against her because of it. "I will never knowingly and willingly make a decision that's bad for kids, no matter what the cost," Wigley said.
A statement from Reach and Teach reads: "Due to the sensitive nature of the program’s access to students and in an effort to maintain consistency and ensure effective implementation, no other musical entity is currently supported or endorsed by Reach and Teach Inc 501(c)(3). Before enrollment, schools are made fully aware of every aspect of the program, including the final professional performance specifically by The Velcro Pygmies, which actively participate in the continued learning opportunities for students. Any school choosing to violate agreed upon terms and conditions of the program and move forward with a different musical entity forfeits participation, access and use of all copyrighted educational materials and resources provided exclusively to enrolled schools."
Wigley said they plan to send the program back its materials so the administration can bring in another band. They plan for the in-school concert to go on at a later date.