Stop Cutting Arts From Our Schools!

So the “powers that be” have decided that the only REAL important thing that happens in a school today is how well the kids do on the FCAT (for you non Floridians that is the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test) I am sure there is a PCAT and a CCAT or similar in Pennsylvania and California

So in order for our kids to be ready for the all important FCAT, it seems everything else had to go. So now the local schools have dropped, art, music, languages, theater, band, and many other all important aspects of the overall education of our children.

So while the schools get money based on their FCAT scores, the kids no longer learn about art, music, and theater. I would like to say at least they are learning about writing, reading and mathematics, but that is not even true. The only thing these kid are learning these days is “How to pass the test! I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the phrase “teach to the test”

It is beyond my comprehension how a school that offers no music, no art, no theater, no chorus, and no languages can still be rated an “A” school. And as for the way they are treating the teachers in all of this nonsense…well that is a whole other topic

Studies show that involvement in the arts triggers the right side of the brain used in problem solving, visual-spatial abilities, self-criticism, developing social skills and how to learn from mistakes. And for many children, art classes allow them to express themselves & feel unique and appreciated which they may not get from regular math and science classes.

Art and music classes offer much more than the ability to paint a landscape or recognize a Mozart symphony. Learning experts insist that education in the arts ensures an enriched cultural appetite stronger analytical skills, higher achievement in other subjects and – down the road – greater success in the workplace.

And yes while reading and writing is very important and we need to continue to instill that in our kids, To quote Richard Dreyfuss from the movie Mr Holland’s Opus, “Well, I guess you can cut the arts as much as you want, Sooner or later, these kids aren’t going to have anything to read or write about”

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About Julie Labes
Julie Labes: Baby-Boomer Travel Specialist: The Fun-Loving, Feisty, Fearless, Frisky, Fierce Over 50 Traveler Julie owns and operates an internet based full service travel booking engine. She has traveled extensively and lived in several countries including England, Switzerland, 7 years in Athens Greece and now resides in Florida. She has been married 20 years and has two children When not working, she enjoys theater, traveling, music cryptic crosswords and a nice cuppa tea

18 Responses to Stop Cutting Arts From Our Schools!

  1. A topic very close to my heart Julie. One of the main reasons I didn’t want to leave South Australia is that my kids were getting a very well rounded education there. They did lots of PE, learnt a language and did music and drama. Here my now 13 year old got the last year of 5th grade orchestra and my younger daughter gets a bit of recorder (thanks to an inspiring teacher). There was Spanish available at the cost of $200 per child per term. They do very little PE, have no recess and my now younger daughter gets well over an hour of Math a day.
    We spend a lot of money on private music lessons for both girls and also some drama but we can’t afford everything as extras and some people can’t afford any extras. I think it’s shocking and I love that quote at the end.
    Nice to see you on here. I’ve been watching your C4 progress with interest as we are very similar.
    Luise Edington
    International AuPair Finder

  2. Julie, I can’t tell you how much I feel your pain. Teachers are highly under-paid, over-worked, and the good ones aren’t really allowed to push the students to the next level like they used to. What do you think we can do about this? What are our options?

  3. I so love your passion! Music, foreign languages, and arts were such important parts of my education years, and I know most of those programs have been lost. I had a French teacher come in for just about 15 minutes when I was in fourth grade, and I got enough exposure to make me really ready to learn in 7th grade. I also played violin! I think doing these things at a young age is so critical. And the joy added to life is immeasurable.

    Great topic!

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer
    http://www.thereflectivewriter.com

  4. Life is not only about scores and grades, it is so important for kids to engage in theater, art and music. They have to have a chance to express themselves and learn creativity. Later, in a job, one of the key qualifications is multi-tasking, how will they make it there?
    Part of a good educational background is classical music -did you know that kids who learned Beethoven´s sheet music are doing much better in math because they are able to understand complex processes?

    A school without art is a dead school, like life without art would be meaningless and poor.
    Thank you for your voice, I hope it will be heard by many!
    Franziska
    Flavor Designs

  5. I totally agree as a Qualified Teacher I choose not to teach because of the politics and pay. I am very fortunate to live in a school district where we still have many wonderful programs in affect but it is not the norm that is for sure.
    Love you passion for teaching 🙂

    • fierceover50 says:

      Rebecca
      My son is a theater major at a school of the arts and my daughter goes to regular school. I already see the difference in the education they are getting. Both are very smart kids but my son is just so much more open minded, culturally aware and just sees the world differently. Perhaps this might have happened anyway there is no way of knowing, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that children with more exposure to different ideas and thinking are going to become better citizens. It is such a shame as my daughter also loves theater and acting but does not a chance to participate. her school has also dropped art, music, chorus and language. Beats the hell out of me how it is still graded an “A” school

  6. There are so many intangible benefits to the arts. An engineer friend of mine is convinced his music studies was the basis for making him an excellent programmer. It’s a real shame that schools are cutting these programs out … of course the universities still expect well rounded individuals with a few years of foreign language, so I guess that only the families that can afford private lessons can expect their children to get in university.

  7. Donna McCord says:

    I, too, am so saddened by how the importance of the arts has been pushed out of the public schools and put on the shoulders of the parents to pay for out of their own pockets, if they can. I remember so clearly how much emphasis was put on music, art, drama, and sports when I was in school (the 50’s and 60’s). That is one of the reasons we put our daughter in a private school as long as we could (through 7th grade). Her public high school actually did have PE and offered sports, band, art classes, languages, and even dance, so we are grateful for that; this school touts itself as having an emphasis on getting children college-ready. I have heard, sadly, that some of these programs have since been discontinued or diminished (she graduated in 2007). I am so glad that my daughter was able to be there before those changes were made, but feel badly for the kids there today and the ones who will be there in the future. Hopefully, something will change for the better soon!

  8. The same goes for us here in California. There are a lot of community fund raisers to try and keep certain programs in the classes, but with our CA budget constraints, programs keep getting chopped. I actually teach after school art classes. The demand keeps growing and growing because it is so needed. I currently have 37 students and more on a waiting list. It is sad that these things are continuing to be cut. Let’s just hope they don’t end up having to cut reading or math.

    Amy

  9. Pat Zahn says:

    Julie – The refrain is “We don’t teach to test, we teach to curriculum…” but it amounts to the same thing. Those who understand the importance and have the means have to supplement arts outside the school. On top of that, if kids are struggling you have to tutor yourself or pay for outside tutoring – I think we got that in the school when I was a kid! My thought has always been that k-12 schooling should foster and set up a life-long love of learning and instead it’s burning them out even before they get to college! I think I’ll stop now before I go into a full-on rant…

  10. Cutting the arts from school has become less a matter of ‘if’ and more a matter of ‘what do we do about it’. If he kids aren’t going to be taught about art in school, then maybe that gives us one more thing to do with our kids. Sit down once a week and read about a new artist and then create art based on that artist. Hopefully some day the school system will get it’s act together. In the meantime, it is up to parents to fill in the gaps. I do have to say this is a pretty fun one to fill! 😉

  11. Jean Bentley says:

    Art, band, theater, are so important to kids. Don’t get me wrong reading, writing and math are very important also but there is something about awakening the arts in a child. I was in band in school and the first year I played the clairinet I moved up to first chair. I was a quite, shy kid and being in bad boosted my self esteem! I hope something changes, because we all need to have something that we’re good at and for some of us is arts, for others in class work! It’s sad, I hope something changes!

  12. Thank you for this post. As a mom of a three year old and a five year old, I fear for the worse. My husband and I are planning to live in a small apartment so we can afford private schools. I really feel that families have to be in charge. Parents can no longer depend on school for anything. There are many amazing private drama classes for children of all ages.

  13. Kay Rice says:

    I’m so glad you are blogging about this topic. It’s a sad state when educators only see value in feeding the “Left” brain. It is in feeding and nurturing the “Right” brain, which is creative and intuitive, that we learn to think for ourselves and become innovative and create new concepts and ideas. For me, it was not an “A” in an academic course that taught me the life lessons that I learned from being in and learning to excel in Music and Band. We can teach our kids a lot of facts and information, but we must also teach them to connect with their intuitive and creative selves. This is done through the arts. Thank you for standing up for this issue!

  14. They should be increasing art education not cutting it. Extremely short sighted, and it’s up to the parents to correct this.

  15. Don’t get me started on this topic…I live in California and it amazes me how we can have the 8th largest economy in the WORLD (not the U.S., the WORLD) and we cannot find the money to provide our children with a well rounded education. I think the only solution is for parents to stand up and demand it from their representatives, make it an issue that will not go away. Get involved on a local level and demand change. Stepping off my soap box now. Thanks.

  16. Having a husband for a teacher I hear this all the time in how he can no longer teach the way he wants to (using lots of multi-media) because he has to use workbooks etc. so the test scores will be higher.

    In fact, just last night he came home with bags of art supplies that he bought (out of his own pocket on a teacher’s salary) for the kids to make Día de los Muertos altars- having each kid choose someone from their community who died in the Vietnam War, build the altar, write letters (and songs if they want) to them, interviewing families if they want, while reading a book and seeing movies about that time. So in just one project, he combines history (Vietnam era), research skills (finding a person) interviewing and people skills (interviewing the families), English (writing the letter), Music (if they write a song). Plus they all present their altars and learn how to evaluate others without criticism, so skills on how to get along. Needless to say, this project is not on the ‘normal’ curriculum, but gets kids who aren’t normally involved and who are struggling to read and write, totally involved and interested and putting out some incredible work.

    We can complain all we want about the schools cutting resources, but complaining is not going to get our kids what they need. In my opinion, it is up to us as parents to pick up the responsibility for our kids. Be inventive and provide imaginative possibilities for our kids. There are tons of free stuff to do and a project like my husband is doing in his school can make for great family time at home- adding to the benefits listed above, family time together.

    Candace Davenport
    http://www.ourlittlebooks.com ~ Little Books with a Big Message

  17. Julie, where’s the action plan. Where are the grandparents?

    http://www.thehawaiiindependent.com/story/hawaiis-over-50-voters-expected-to-come-out-big-again-in-the-fall-elections/
    “Sometimes age and wisdom do cohabitate. According to an AARP Hawaii survey, 98 percent of their 150,000 members ages 50-plus say they will vote in the upcoming election. Considering that 41 percent of Hawaii’s over-50 population are AARP members—and that 20 percent of all Hawaii voters are in this older demographic—age may be the magic that gets voters to the polls.”

    This is a problem nationwide. What are Floridian’s doing about it?

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