Keep Arts Education From Dying Out in Public Schools

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Target: Barack Obama, United States President

Goal: Increase funding for arts education in public elementary, middle, and high schools

Although arts education is conclusively linked to lower dropout rates, higher test scores, and better quality of life for students, our school systems can’t seem to find the money to keep the arts alive. Music, theater, and especially visual arts classes are being cut left and right as their teachers are handed pink slips and sent on their way. This is also a tragedy for the children and youth across the country being denied the major developmental benefits that art instruction offers. Urge president Obama to increase funding for arts education in the forthcoming 2014 budget.

In an education system focused on quantification and standardized testing, the necessity for creative stimulation is easily forgotten. It is easy to administer a test and grade students based on answers to multiple choice questions, but harder to measure deep-seeded improvements to critical thinking and cognitive skills. The latter is what arts education provides, along with social-emotional development, memory enhancement, and increase in motivation to perform in other subjects. Government officials and superindentents fail to realize that right-brain stimulation is essential to improving the test scores our schools are judged on, so they cut art programs out of the picture.

Valerie Davidson, a visual arts teacher in a Los Angeles middle school, exemplifies an increasingly common scenario. Davidson was the only arts teacher in a school of nearly 2,000 students – before she was dismissed from employment in 2012. “They’ve cut 85% of the arts in three years in LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District),” she said. “That means 15% of the arts is left. What is the arts capital of the world? Los Angeles. It’s such an insult.” Unfortunately, this kind of thing is happening all over the United States.

In the midst of all the creative shearing, however, there is a ray of hope. President Barack Obama is a supporter of the arts, and has voiced his opinions on the subject. During a 2011 speech, he said, “The arts and the humanities do not just reflect America. They shape America, and as long as I am President, I look forward to making sure they are a priority for this country.” Under his leadership, arts education in America stands to begin making a recovery.

Obama actually cut funding for the arts in 2011, but he increased National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) funding by 5.5% in 2012. Now that it seems our economy is regaining its footing, so should the arts. It is time for our president must walk the talk. Sign this petition and urge Obama to increase arts education funding in the forthcoming 2014 budget.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Barack Obama,

In recent years, arts education programs across the country have fallen on hard times. Due to our education system’s focus on standardized tests and easily quantifiable measures of academic performance, the deep-seeded intellectual improvements inherent in artistic stimulation are being forgotten.

As a supporter of the arts, you know the good that art can do for individual performance and community health. No more should America’s children and youth be deprived of the satisfaction and developmental benefits provided by creative expression. Now that our economy is approaching more solid ground, it is time to bring that good back into our society. It is time for arts education to make a comeback. I urge you to increase funding for the arts in your forthcoming FY 2014 budget.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

photo credit: Praveenbenk via Flickr

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4 Comments

  1. J Davidson says:

    The arts are essential to all of humanity and the intellectual development and education of our kids.

  2. “Although arts education is conclusively linked to lower dropout rates, higher test scores, and better quality of life for students,”

    Just curious, what sources are you basing these statements on? Primary academic articles, or secondhand newspaper articles, or? If you could provide some links I would appreciate it.

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