Cutting Fine Arts in Schools

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Cutting Fine Arts in Schools
Fine arts programs are rapidly being cut around the country. When school systems are running out of money the first programs to be eliminated are the fine arts. School board members have no idea of what they are doing to students. They are unaware of the many benefits of fine arts programs in their schools. They also do not know how to run a successful fine arts program. Since 1993, when legislators imposed revenue corps on public schools, school districts have been forced to make some hard decisions about the ways they can cut back spending. Music and art programs are usually among the the first to receive severe blows. “Fine arts are vulnerable to budget cuts partly because children are not tested in music or art under No Child Left Behind.” said Benedict J. Smar, a University of Massachusetts music education professor (Deforge). School boards cut fine arts programs because they believe it is the easy way out of a financial crisis.

Although fine arts programs are usually the first to be cut when budget cuts come to schools, fine arts can be considered the most important thing in a child’s education. A well- rounded education in the fine arts help students develop imagination, observation skills, critical thinking skills, deeper and more complex thinking skills, spatial reasoning and temporal skills, critical analysis, abstract thought, and pattern recognition (Hurley). Research shows that when students study the arts, it leads to higher achievement in other areas, especially when the arts are meaningfully integrated throughout different content areas. A Scientific American editorial which was headlined “Hearing the Music, Honing the Mind,” stated, “Music produces profound and lasting changes in the brain. Schools should add classes, not cut them,”(Russell). According to the “No Child Left Behind” act, the fine arts are counted as one of the ten core subjects. Also under “No Child Left Behind,” it violates federal law to cut arts classes in schools. It has been proven that schools with fine arts programs have higher test, graduation, and attendance rates. Schools that have music programs have significantly higher graduation rates than do those without music programs,90.2% as compared to 72.9%, (Russell). The College Board reported that in 2004, those who had taken fine arts courses did better on the SATs than students who did not take fine arts courses. Those who studied music scored forty points higher on the math portion, and those who studied acting outscored their peers by sixty six points on the verbal portion of the test. Studies in Chicago indicated that scores of students who studied in schools with the arts went up two times faster than those in schools without the arts. Another study indicated that those student who studied fine arts in Minneapolis made substantive test gains; this was especially true for children who were considered to be disadvantaged. Famous actors, artists, and musicians would have never been what they are today if they had not taken arts classes in high school. If children are educated in the arts they will better understand and appreciate other cultures. A very famous band director who I meet once said “If you sit down in another country and play your instrument, act out a skit, or paint a picture you can have a conversation with the native people. The arts are a language that is the same for all countries no matter what language they speak. The arts are the gateway to people’s hearts and souls.” (Mr. Bruce Dinkins, band director at James Bowie High School in Austin, Texas)

School Board members are not aware of the effects of cutting fine arts programs. By cutting public funding to public schools, school boards risk placing more pressure on private donors and other such resources to help fund the arts. Studies show that schools that cut arts programs within three years are spending more money on education, and their test scores actually go down....
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