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LETTER: Special educators affirm music therapy's value

We are writing to express the importance of UND's music therapy program to the students of North Dakota. We are associated with the Upper Valley Special Education Unit, which serves special needs students in nine districts in northeastern North D...

We are writing to express the importance of UND's music therapy program to the students of North Dakota.

We are associated with the Upper Valley Special Education Unit, which serves special needs students in nine districts in northeastern North Dakota. Music therapy has become available to the schools in the unit in recent years. It has proven to be a very valuable tool for helping students with a variety of needs, including students with autism, those with emotional problems and students who need to work on motor skills.

We would like to stress the following points:

▇ Music therapy isn't entertainment. It's a well-researched form of therapy that has benefited people such as Bob Woodruff and Gabby Giffords after they suffered their traumatic brain injuries. ▇ Access to music therapy is beneficial to our students with special needs. And because the program at UND is the only public-college program in a five-state area, eliminating this program would dramatically reduce the availability of music therapists in this state.

This is not in the best interest of the special needs students, who could benefit from music therapy support.

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We are administrators. We understand the desire to make budget cuts through attrition, but we also realize that cuts need to be consistent with a strategic plan. The UND music therapy program is a vital part of the music program strategic plan for the North Dakota University System.

We encourage the administration at UND, as well as the members of the state Board of Higher Education, to respect that plan and do what's right for special needs students in North Dakota as well as so many other people who can benefit from music therapy.

Please preserve this valuable and regionally unique program.

Linda Jenkins

Richard Ray

Roger Abbe

Grafton, N.D.

Jenkins is director of the Upper Valley Special Education Unit. Ray is superintendent at Manvel Public School and president of the Upper Valley Special Education Unit. Abbe is superintendent at Midway and Larimore Public Schools and a member of the Upper Valley board of directors.

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