Soapbox Time

What in the world has happened to education around here? Oh, right. It’s a business. First and foremost it’s a business, and that means that the focus is on money. Focus on test scores so that the kids will score high enough that the districts get money to pad their ever-shrinking budgets.

And what is lost? I’ll tell you – here in H-town, it’s kids’ exposure to the arts. I’m not talking about middle and high school orchestra, band, choir and theatre. Nope. Those are alive and well. But where do those programs get their numbers? Kids. Little kids who grow with an interest in the arts. And if they’re not exposed to it at a young age (by a teacher with a clue who shares their own love of the arts), then secondary programs are doomed.

I don’t get it. Back when I first started teaching, every kid in most districts around here had at least one opportunity during their elementary school years to experience the performing arts up close and personal – a live performance, trip to the museum, you name it. But here? That was the first thing to go when the budget started getting tight. It burns me up. No more field trips, no more excursions to the museum or the symphony. At least not in the districts around my ‘burb.

What are people thinking?? Obviously they haven’t read or considered this excellent article from The Washington Post. It’s not just the arts programs that suffer – it’s the whole child. What do we want as our society’s legacy? Constant connectedness through YouTube, Facebook and Twitter – or a lasting legacy of fine art. Consider this: we base our opinions of ancient societies based on artifacts and literature left behind. And right now our legacy of Tweets and status updates is becoming the norm.

It makes me miss home even more, because obviously schools and school administrators up in Big D have their heads on straight. Those kids still get the field trips to the arts, and many also get weeks spent in outdoor classrooms experiencing science firsthand. WHAT’S WRONG WITH H-TOWN?? IT’S THE FOURTH-LARGEST CITY IN AMERICA, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!! Maybe it would help if our parents and teachers were more vocal – oh, wait, arts teachers continually lobby for greater presence. They’re already doing that. But to no avail.

Can you tell I want to move home today?

And just a side note – I hope some homeschooling parents read the Washington Post article too. I had a conversation about homeschooling just the other day with a friend who actually gets it – and does the deed properly, putting their kids first and foremost.

But the arts are still lacking for those kids too – unless they have exceptional parents who place a high priority on the arts, they’re not getting it. Those kids may be lucky enough to learn biology from a biologist and history from a medieval scholar – but that’s not the whole child. Listening to an iPod 24/7 or finger painting three times a week do not constitute exposure to and education in the fine arts. And the arts are a necessity for every child.

Stepping down from my soapbox now. Agree with me? Leave a comment. Disgusted with and ready to shoot me? Leave a comment. My point here is to make you think, and inspire some kind of action. Because I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want humans three hundred years from now to think our greatest accomplishment to the world was the Tweet.

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2 Comments

Filed under Arts Education, Budget, Field Trips, Houston, Performing Arts, Public Education

2 responses to “Soapbox Time

  1. We were very blessed to have all the field trips that we did in school. I hear your frustration. Are there too many of us on the planet now? Were the things we took for granted really huge gifts that we can't expect our own children to experience? Like many "issues" there is no "ONE" thing that will fix it … not even money could fix it without the talent to go with it. Maybe kids (and their parents) will have to work harder now to be educated in the arts. Once artists were a dime a dozen … what if it becomes more common for a kid to be a astrophysicist than a violinist? I hear ya Sista … you are not yelling into nothingness. 🙂

  2. My kid hates having PE every other day. She has art and music once a week each. And goes to the library ONCE every 7 days. She loves art. Hates PE with a passion. But because it's now the schools' reponsibility to keep our kids from getting fat, the kids are mandated to have it every other day. Frustrating. Also, the field trips are a joke. Last year it was Dewberry Farms. This year, the zoo. I'm not thrilled about the zoo. Why not get our high school 4H involved and show those kids the process of caring for the animals or growing crops??? Utilize the school district's outdoor learning center??? It would be nice for the kids to be able to attend a local high school drama production, but they are vulgar. I am totally with you on this!

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