Don’t Leave Arts Education Up To The Government

When my career in public radio began, funding from various government sources was strong.  During that time, we have added transmitters in partnerships with communities which wanted classical music and become a 24-hour service.

During that same period, funding drops forced us to turn off the overnight service for a time, spend more time seeking local support and do more with less.  Without the strong support of WOSU/Classical 101 listeners, this radio station would not be where it is today.  It is a particular thrill to look at audiences of late and see a wide range of ages. Parents and grandparents are introducing youngsters to classical music in a live performance setting.

Arts organizations in Central Ohio and across the country realize the importance of an education which includes the arts and culture.  Musicians, dancers, performers, and artists devote time to going to schools to introduce students to the joys to be found in the creative arts.

The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities has established a new arts education initiative to help turn around low-performing schools.  The Turnaround Arts Initiative is a public/private partnership designed to “help narrow the achievement gap and increase student engagement through the arts.”

Patrick Pope, who took over as principal of Savoy Elementary in Washington D.C., one of the eight participating schools, said it well.

“The three years before I got here, scores declined every single year,” he says. This year, after the start of the arts immersion program, ‘they stopped declining’.”

Kudos to the current administration for taking the initiative to encourage balance in education.  So much emphasis has been placed on test scores, that music, arts, creativity and a chance to blow off some steam on the playground have been crowded out.

We all know we cannot depend upon the government to do it all.  We as parents, grandparents and community leaders must do more than just hope this trickles down to our local schools.  We must demand that some balance be brought back into the educational process.  It is going to require all of us to take a little time out of incredibly busy lives to attend some school board meetings, make our voices heard and make certain local officials understand that arts and culture enhance our children’s education and make our community a better place to live and learn.

Read more: After years of crouching, arts ed is raising its hand again (Washington Post Magazine)

  • BethanyG

    Amen, and regarding the newer initiatives, this is good news to hear…as a former K-12 classroom teacher, the arts are critical in helping stimulate kids’ brains in ways that help them learn and process all the things that we are demanding them to know for the tests at younger and younger ages. Chicago is starting a large arts community initiative; I also think the discussion of better access to arts in our schools and our communities should be a part of the national and local dialogues about gun violence and general anti-violence efforts. Kids engaged in the arts and/or in nature/the outdoors, in addition to sports, tend to become well-rounded and engaged citizens.