Saturday, December 11, 2010

Art Deserves Funding

Art and music played an enormous part in the development and origins of all nations around the globe. As cultures have been stabilized and made distinct, people slowly began to fade away from the importance of art and musical development. Such set backs can be seen globally as well as locally. Scientists argue that both art and music are enormous essentials for children in the process of learning, but ever since the 1970’s the efforts to push art and music educational programs in schools have clearly decreased. Art and music play an important role in any community’s culture and development; therefore people are in need of the government to step up and set a side funds for programs such as the one’s being cut at Quabbin Regional High School. The regional school in central Massachusetts doesn’t stand alone as the rest of the schools in country have been suffering from similar financial issues. The governments are finding the common courses more important, such as English, math, and sciences. Even though those courses are very essential, art and music education brings students to that next level of learning in those courses. The classroom time at Quabbin High School devoted to the art has been noticebly reduced as more art teachers and classes are cut each year. Reconsiderations have to be made and money has to be set aside in order to improve the schooling for the artistically driven students here in our community.
Before World War II the arts, especially music, theater, dance, and visual arts were much levier and had strong presence in school curriculum than after the war. During the first half of the century arts in schools flourished. During the war priorities took off on a different tangent in countries all over the world. The government support of the arts which helped to keep art education strong in schools visibly decreased. “Particularly after the Soviet launch of the first Sputnik in 1957, the emphasis in America and other nations school education swung dramatically towards math and science” (Walling). In the early and mid 1970s the energy crisis forced cutbacks in programs and facilities. Once again the government tried to make an effort to bring arts back to center of learning in schools. Such efforts slowly began to improve the situation, but at a very slow paste and to this day the programs in schools are not back to the way they used to be
Art and music are closely linked to multiculturalism surrounding any society. As the basics of cultures are kept, new creativeness and structures are developing. Musicians, artists, and writers contribute to the influence on the society. Artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, are to this day popular and influencing the modern day civilization. Arts have brought humanity a long way and over generations cultural marks have been made. People express their creativity everywhere, through the different clothing designs or the buildings in a city. Music is heard all over the radio and often can influence people’s moods. Art and music is surrounds everyone on a daily basis and in ways affects their outlooks. If such basics serve such a big influence, art and music programs even in our local high school should not be taken for granted as Quabbin amongt others serves as part of the strucutr eo fht culutral movement on a larger scale. Therefore, it should be seen higher in the government’s eyes. For the past few years, the class sizes have been increasing, as more studnts have to be crammed into the limited number of courses. The choices that used to flourish the art hallway located on the thirs floor of the high school are becoming bare as some serve as math classes today. Creative thinking is much needed, and as less and less music and art programs are funded, the children that would excel in creative thinking are set back and not allowed to show their full potential in an area that could guide them to a future career.
Whenever there is a cut to be made at Quabbin, the first thing the administrations look to is the arts. By law they can’t cut language, math, science, history, along with sports, these classes are treated on a much higher level than the arts. For many administrations, cutting the art program is the easiest choice for them, an easy target. There are not many teachers running such programs, which takes an easier effort to fire them without much retaliation from their minority. They may argue that art and music don’t bring as much of honor as they should to the high school. Rather, many students are glorified for their athletic successes while the art and music performances are often ignored. “While sports programs are important, music is a learned skill that will build during a person’s life. An appreciation for something that goes well beyond the individual student life,” said a music directory from the Boston Conservatory (Williams). As the schools cuts programs one year and restore them the next as the funds decrease or increase, such acitivty does not provide for a successful program. The sequence in the classes is important, and if students loose it for a year they might not get what they should of out of their experience with the arts or they mal lose interest over all.
Years of research say that education in the artd is closely related to almost everything parents would want for their children and the schools they attend. It is linked to “academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity.” Due to such importance in the developmental stages in children, it is not fair for students to not get the most of out their education due to the lack of funds for the programs here at Quabbin. Involvement in the arts is connected to improvement in problem solving, reading, critical thinking, and verbal skills. Many children that have a stronger connection and closer availability to the arts have more motivation, concentration, confidence, and work better with others. According to a 2005 report about visual arts, “stimulation of the arts can connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing” (Vesta). Strong art programs  can help close the gap that is leaving many children behind in their learning ability. Without the provided arts at the high school level not many children get a good exposure to it otheriwise, not everyone can afford to take their children to a museum, to a concert, or an art show. Therefore, high school stands as the groundation of such exposure that all students at Quabbin High School should have a chance to experience.
It has become clear in education that No Child Left Behind, with its pressure to raise test scored, has reduced classroom time devoted to the arts. Decision makers among politicians and administrators don’t always believe that arts are coequal with math, reading, and science. "You have to have art and music, you don't want to end up being just an MCAS school. We have to ask how we preserve a well-rounded education," Churchill said (Williams). Art education has been now slipping for a fewyears due to tight budgets and the public sense that arts are not essential. “If they are worried about their test scores and want a way to get them higher, they need to give kids more art, not less. There is lots of evidence that kids immersed in arts do better on their academic tests” says Tom Horne, Arizona’s state superintendent of public instruction (Davis). Some polices have been enacted in order to make art requirement for kids here at Quabbin High Shcool but that still does not mean the art and music programs they are required to take are on a good level as the need for improvement is much stressed.
It is visible that the teachers at the hish schools who are pressured to meet the required test scores in math and english can’t often focus on the arts. The educators seem to take away from the creative side of the students by teaching them in such a mechanical way. The easiest way of combining arts with the core subjects would be to involve drawing or music into lessons, allowing students to be creative even in the required subjects. Some teachers say that programs should connect together in order to achieve this goal. Bill Simons, an art teacher at Qubbain discussed the connecting of programs, “It would be great to see the math classes to come in here and work with our 3-D design students. Sometimes it is great to have a few great perspectives when it comes to working on a project in class. The students that are advanced mathematically can take away from the artsy students, as well as the other way around” (Simons). Teachers in the high school have taken on the arts into their own hands in order to give the students the right opportunity, with the right funds and programs this goal would become much easier to achieve.
Over the past couple years and especially this year, students at Quabbin Hight have been feeling the effects the economic recession. As the economy raises and falls, so do the funds for the school. The government needs to try to get the right art programs back on the track. The economy is suffering and the money is low, but it is only fair for the students to get the opportunity they want in all subjects, not just the required ones. Private organizations are helping the high school with its arts programs by providing grants. Sometimes even those grants are not enough, and more money should be government sponosored. “At times there isn’t enough money for all that we need in our classes. Sometimes I find myself going out of my way and spending my own money to get the extras we need. Private grants are great, and we do apply for some but its not always easy to find and receive all that we want,” stated Bill Simons (Simons). Politically people need to realize that even with the goal for students to meet the MCAS requirements, they are taking away from students that might prosper in other areas. In many districts the arts have suffered for a long time so it will take a long time and massive investments to turn them around and make the beneficial to the students. “When you think about the purpose of education, there are three. We’re preparing kids for jobs. We’re preparing them to be citizens. And we are teaching them to be human beings who can enjoy the deeper forms of beauty. The third is as importan as the other two”(Vroon).
The challenges Quabbin Hish School faces are difficult to concur quickly. In order for a more succesful improvement the political views on art education have to be reconsidered along side of an effort to set money aside. Art and music visibly show an enormous impact on every community, even as small as the one surrounding Quabbin Hish School. It is the artists who inspires and make others around them see things in different perspectives. The arts programs at Quabbin Hgih is what allow s young adults to progress creatively and help them along the way in other areas as well. The current day level arts programs are no where near on the same level as they used to be. The programs are suffering and efforts by the government need to improve even in the small some communities inorder to make the programs successful on a larger scale. Over all, art and music serve a purpose in everyone’s life, taking away from the creative potential of many students at the high school level doesn’t lead to what the country wants for the generations of the future.

Works Cited

Simons, Bill. "Art Education at Quabbin High School." E-mail interview. 03 Dec. 2010
Davis, Hilary.  The Arizona Daily Sun, Flagstaff. "Music, art at stake in override." McClatchy - Tribune Business News. 12 Oct. 2009 eLibrary. Web. 05 Mar. 2010.
Vesta, Daniel A H; Stuhr, Patricia L; Ballengee-Morris, Christine. "Suggestions for Integrating the Arts into Curriculum." Art Education 1(2006):6. eLibrary. Web. 04 Mar. 2010.                  
Vroon, Donald R. "Critical Convictions." American Record Guide (Vol. 70, No. 2) Mar/Apr 2007: 39-41. SIRS Researcher. Web. 04 March 2010.
Walling, Donovan R. "Rethinking visual arts education: A convergence of influences." Phi Delta Kappan. 01 Apr. 2001: 626. eLibrary. Web. 04 Mar. 2010.
Williams, Harold M. "Don't Ignore the Arts." USA Today (Magazine) Sept. 1995: 66-68. SIRS Researcher. Web. 04 March 2010.


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