Cutting the Arts? Why Cut a Critical Link?
One of the first things that goes, in a down economy, is sports and the arts. Both of these are vital to children and both ride on the economic health of the school and its system. The arts, I have argued, are vital because they kick off higher engagement, higher cognitive functioning and spill over into other subjects in terms of supporting student thinking. We should not be cutting the arts, or sports, because they are critical links in children's educational lives.
Don't get me wrong, ELA and Math are very important too. But our educational accountability is currently organized around testing student knowledge of ELA and Math so they will be the last thing cut in downsizing schools. The arts engage children in ways that are hard to measure and that makes it difficult to argue for their inclusion in a fully funded budget.
Does that mean that we should not make the argument? We should. Does that mean the arts are less important than other types of learning? No it does not. Will the world come to an end if the arts are cut? Not really, I mean, not because of the arts anyway. Parents with resources will always look to supplement their child's education by investing in arts lessons, piano instruction, dance, theatre games, and such.
What is important to remember is that humans love art because it helps them live a more meaningful life, it helps humans get in touch with their creative side, and it forces humans to have fun as they struggle to create something new and worthy of attention. If you are interested in speaking up, approach the big organizations who do advocacy everyday. Some names to get started with are...Arts Education Partnerships and Alliance for the Arts.