The other day we got a note home from school about the art program. We get notes from the school practically every day, promoting this or that cause, cajoling for volunteers, or asking for some sort of donation, but this one caught me.
In our school district---which I consider to be a relatively wealthy district, with a high tax base and amazingly generous donations from individuals and the community---the school lacks (won't allocate?) the funds to provide the art teacher with the supplies she needs to teach our children about art.
A subject I consider essential.
I come from a family of artists. I've created and sold art. For a while, it was my income. Luckily my husband provided one too or I might have starved, but that could also have been my lack of marketing ability (and motivation). Luckily my ancestors were craftier.
When my great-grandmother became a single mother, she used her artistic talent to provide income for her family. Her daughters carried on the tradition. I am often awed by their talent. My great-grandmother was a painter, largely of landscapes, slightly impressionistic.
My home is filled with art. There's the Girl Reaches for Moon by a Costa Rican artist we met while vacationing there. The two-piece set by San Francisco artist Zanne Christensen. Quite a bit of my own work. Unexpected favorites that cross over both my love of literature and art, such as Herman Hesse.
Art teaches us about perspective, geometry, taps into our creativity, enriches our eye, our view...and so much more.
Did You Know?
Young people who participate in the arts for at least three hours on three days each week through at least one full year are:
* 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement
* 3 times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools
* 4 times more likely to participate in a math and science fair
* 3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance
* 4 times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem
Young artists, as compared with their peers, are likely to:
* Attend music, art, and dance classes nearly three times as frequently
* Participate in youth groups nearly four times as frequently
* Read for pleasure nearly twice as often
* Perform community service more than four times as often
Source: Americans for the Arts ("Living the Arts through Language + Learning: A Report on Community-based Youth Organizations," Shirley Brice Heath, Stanford University and Carnegie Foundation For the Advancement of Teaching, Americans for the Arts Monograph, November 1998)
What an incredible list! The arts give so much to children!
How can our schools not have enough money to teach art, let the children create art...not have enough money to provide the needed supplies?
The list said that children who get three hours of the arts three days a week gain those benefits.
Patience's school provides one period of art per week and one period of music per week. Period. That's not even two full hours.
We do have two local art education programs that are fantastic, and fantastically expensive. So much so that we don't participate; it's beyond our budget, and there are so many locally who earn even less than we do.
What do you do when you can't afford to buy an arts education?
Why, when it comes to money allocation, do districts appear to short-change the arts?
If schools (and parents) want a program that steers children toward positive, esteem-building, and motivational activities and away from things such as drugs and sex, here's your answer: the arts.
If the district had put money towards the arts instead of spending approximately $30 per classroom for plastic red ribbon week wristbands, I think the art teacher might have at least most of the supplies she needs.
Instead, I got a note. A note that on the front requested money or item donations, and on the back, in small font, had a list three columns wide for the entire length of the letter-sized page of supplies the art teacher needed.
And so on.
Patience painted Blue Dog in art class, and her teacher selected it for this amazing site called Artsonia.
She has a story about the painting, of course. It's never just a picture.
What story do you see there?
Isn't it cool to just gaze and imagine?
Art is so valuable. How can we begin valuing it in our schools again? How can we ensure that our children get a rich arts education too, and that the teachers have all the supplies they need, without having to beg from parents?
What do you think about art and art education...what's your experience with it in your schools?
For more information see: Americans for the Arts
Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
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