Monday, January 21, 2013

Public School and the Arts

In RL I have the distinct pleasure of working with artists, artist foundations and not-for-profits of all types.

An friend of mine told me that he knew he'd be a sculptor after he took an art class in junior high school and his art teacher encouraged him to continue outside of his classroom.  Because of that, every year he rents out space at an old elementary school and allows up and coming young artists to display their work.  The profit for all sold artwork gets donated back to his old junior high school.  

Just as an aside, let me just say that the one thing that I've grown to love about artists is that for the most part, despite the stereotypes, they're extremely well rounded individuals.  I would even take it so far as to say that some of them are brilliant in their own way.  They're not solely focused on the arts - they're often very politically involved and charity and awareness advocates.  Their spirit of giving back is ridiculously amazing.

Being a child of public school myself, I can see his loyalty.  For many kids public school is the main and sometimes only source of the arts brought into their life.  I grew up in an impoverished neighborhood in Brooklyn, and I know first-hand that access to music education and art classes aren't widely available.  Let's be honest.  You're either running with the gangs are hiding at home to avoid the gangs.

I was incredibly lucky to have amazing teachers in public school that encouraged my creative writing and also provided me information for after-school creative writing groups and classes.  I consider myself to be blessed, and I know that having writing in my life has made me a somewhat more rounded person in life.

This month's Concerned Blogger's topic is the arts.  How does one become a well-rounded person, and does the arts play a key role?

According to the Morrison Institute, 95% percent of Americans believe that music is a key-component in a child’s well-rounded education.  And according to American for the Arts, young people who participate in the arts for at least three hours, three days a week for a 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, and 4 times more likely to participate in a math and science fair.

DoSomething.Org says that students who participate in arts programs are at least three times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, elected to class office within their schools, participate in a math and science fair, win an award for school attendance and win an award for writing an essay or poem. 

I could sit here and cut and paste more facts, but the reality is that I know how important having the arts is for public schools.  And funding is being cut like crazy.  And where does that leave our future generations?  Imagine a school with no art, no music, no writing, no plays, and no outlet for creative kids.  

What's that old saying?  Idle hands are the Devil's tools.

And believe me, in the impoverished neighborhoods of America, the idle hands are a danger to everyone.  The youth are plagued with drugs dealers, drug users, dropouts, teen pregnancy, gang violence and worse.  

Don't believe me?  DoSomething.Org says that only 33% of students take music classes. Out of 160 middle schools in Brooklyn, 26% of schools don't even offer music education.

Let's make arts in education a priority.  Let's save the future.   We can work with Americans for the Arts and help bring the arts to areas that are needed.

Otherwise we might be left with....

Was this coherent?  Let me say it flat out - get involved in your neighborhood and let's save the arts for public schools.

WOOHOO!  I should have just started with that, no?  :)


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