Tahlequah Daily Press

May 22, 2012

Don’t take art education out of our schools

By JOSEPH BROSSIER
Special Writer

TAHLEQUAH —  

It is often the messiest room in the school. It is a room filled with bright colors and, sometimes, strange smells. It is a room where young minds are encouraged to imagine, dream and create. It is the art room, and it’s under attack.
Since the 1970s, the art programs in schools across the country have been the first cut when there is a budget crisis. With the emphasis today on math and science, art programs are seen as needless time filler, dedicated to making pretty pictures. This is usually because school boards and administrators are unaware of the value of art education. Often, parents are also unaware of the benefits and simply trust the school district knows what it is doing.
Most school curricula focuses on rules and a single correct answer. Art helps a child learn there can be more than one correct answer and helps them develop the good judgment necessary to find a workable solution in situations in which there are no set true-or-false answers. The arts encourage children to develop craftsmanship and goal-setting skills.
Most importantly, art gives children a creative outlet that will allow them to develop and express visually their feelings and opinions. Students in the arts also learn to respect alternative viewpoints and cultures, critical skills in today’s world. These benefits are the most frequently cited when discussing the value of art education. There are, however, additional benefits that no parents or school board can afford to ignore.
These additional benefits are academic in nature. Art education strengthens problem-solving, critical thinking, self-confidence and self-discipline, in a manner that most other classes simply cannot. These skills translate well into other classes and future employment. 
A 2011 report of college-bound seniors produced by The College Board shows those students who study art in high school score higher on the SAT in critical reading, mathematics and writing. 
These scores increase with each additional year of art studied in high school. Studies have shown time and again that children who study the arts perform better academically than those who do not. Across the U.S., and around the world, schools with integrated art education programs show greatest achievement in the sciences.
Our schools may lose this crucial program. The Keys School Board is considering eliminating the arts from both the elementary and high school right now. They will be making their decision on Monday, June 4, and if you do not speak up and let them know the importance of art education, a program vital to child development will be lost. And your school could be next. Don’t let the first domino fall.
Don’t let the bad economy harm your child’s education. Contact the Keys School Board and tell them the value of art education. Show up at the meeting. Spend a few minutes writing a letter. Let them know you support the arts in school. 
Your children deserve the best education possible, and the arts are crucial to that education.
Joseph Brossier is an art teacher at Keys Public Schools.