Less time for arts is detrimental to students (N&R)

The image “https://i0.wp.com/www.guilfordeducationalliance.org/images/clip_image002_007.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Yesterday’s Guilford Record, inside most of Sunday’s N&R editions, featured this op-ed from Guilford Education Alliance executive director Margaret Arbuckle.

She’s spot-on here.

Less time for arts is detrimental to students

The image “https://i2.wp.com/www.ncjournalforwomen.com/images/2005monthlyimages/mar05images/Margaret%20Arbuckle.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
By Margaret Arbuckle
Contributing Writer
Sunday, Feb. 24, 2008 3:00 am
The discussion regarding the importance of arts education in our public schools has been heightened recently. Teachers, parents, students, arts faculty from our colleges and universities and arts advocates have all spoken before the Board of Education. The basic premise is that lessening time for arts education has a tremendous negative impact on students’ academic success, their comprehensive education and their potential to be creative responsible citizens as adults.

This conversation is a reaction to the decrease of time for arts education in a number of elementary schools as a result of two decisions:

• The Board of Education provided a daily planning period for every teacher in elementary schools for the 2007-08 school year. Teachers indicated that this was needed to collaborate with each other and to lessen the pressure to “get it all done” in the course of the school day. To provide the planning period, another class taught by another teacher had to be included in the day.

• Including another instructional period achieved another school board goal: providing foreign language instruction so that students graduate with knowledge of a second language. Spanish was re-introduced into the elementary grades.

The impact of these two changes resulted in an unintentional reduction of arts education.

The requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act complicate things. Although art and music are core subjects listed in the law, they are not tested. In Guilford County they are categorized as “encore” subjects taught by specialists, not classroom teachers.

Across the country, time devoted to arts education has been decreased as the pressures have mounted to meet the proficiency levels in math and reading as measured through No Child Left Behind. Schools whose students do not meet proficiency levels in these subjects are sanctioned.

According to one study, there has been a 16 percent decline in time devoted to social studies and arts, and increased time devoted to reading and math, sometimes equal to doubling the time for reading and math during a school day.

The impact of less time devoted to arts education is clear. Last month, Education Week reported:

• Youth are disengaged from society, leading to increased youth violence, gang activity and sense of hopelessness. Arts education is not the only means of addressing this but with arts education comes collaboration, increased respect for cultural differences and a greater sense of positive self-esteem.

• The arts are a universal language, deepening understanding and communication in our global economy.

• Arts education provides opportunities for innovation and creativity, the hallmarks of our economic success.

• Arts education provides the opportunity for students to seek deeper meaning in their work, enhancing their spiritual development and leading them to defining values that connect them to humankind.

There is consensus that the positive impact of the No Child Left Behind legislation is full disclosure of the performance of our public schools. However, most agree that to meet the expectations of the law, we are teaching “to the test,” limiting our students’ development of critical thinking skills, and are basing our education system on theories that related to the Industrial Age, not the 21st-century global economy.

We are challenged to educate our students to achieve proficiency on tests but also develop the capacity to think creatively. Arts education is one means of achieving this.

The facts of the current status of arts education appear to be evidence both locally and nationally that meeting the measurement expectations of the law has resulted in decreasing the opportunities to teach our students through the arts.

The goals of creating a truly educated public have been lost in the demand to reach some level of proficiency on required testing, and we have sacrificed arts education in the process.

A re-examination of our total curriculum is necessary.

The Guilford County Board of Education is examining alternative scheduling proposals to identify ways to provide a more comprehensive curriculum for our children’s education.

Let’s hope that is achieved.

Margaret Bourdeaux Arbuckle is executive director of Guilford Education Alliance.

*******************************

E.C. )

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8 Responses

  1. Eric, thank you for displaying this article. Cutting art and music instructional time is not only counter-productive to providing quality education to our children but it is also detrimental to their well-being. And now PE is also being threatened with the 2008/2009 proposed elementary schedule. I’m worried that if these cuts continue we are headed for more discipline issues because the positive outlets the arts and PE provide will be closed off.

  2. Erik, you put it well — “Spot On”

  3. Preach it! How can we expect children not to act out after day after day of endless drilling on reading and math with little outlet for creativity or expression. What is also troubling is that children who struggle with reading and math are frequently pulled out of elective classes for even MORE remediation. This is the age old “if it doesn’t work, do it more” pihlosophy. How enlightening. Every day I see unengaged, apathetic children who are crying out to be captivated. Yet, every year it seems someone, somewhere wants to cut more of our arts programs in the name of increasing test scores. Ugh!

  4. Joel, very astute observation:

    “Every day I see unengaged, apathetic children who are crying out to be captivated.”

    I see it too. I also see how the arts captivate children and engage them in learning. When will more administrators realize that teachers and specialists can use the arts and PE to help students with math and reading, especially ones who are struggling? It doesn’t have to be this “either/or ” situation. How about “Musical Math” or “Art Arithmatic” or a “Reading Obstacle Course” to get children excited about these core subjects? Kindergarten teachers are great at this but it all goes by the wayside the closer teachers and students get to the EOG’s.

  5. Sing it, Sister!!

  6. I need a Musical Spelling class so I can learn to spell “Erik” and “arithmetic” correctly. Sorry Erik!

  7. Don’t get me wrong. Reading, writing, and math are vitally important to any child’s education. However (no offense Cathy), I am always frustrated when I hear people talk about the value of music/art and how it makes kids better at other subjects. Yes, this is true, However, I think we should teach music, art, dance, drama, etc. because they, in and of themselves, are important and kids need to know about them. Our culture is defined by our art. It is our ability to create, feel, and express that makes us truly human and lifts our spirit. Children should be exposed to this early and often. If we choose not to cultivate these artistic abilities, we do a great disservice to our children.

  8. Joel, I couldn’t agree with you more! The true value of the arts is not how they improve our minds but how they improve our lives.

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