I’d like to inform you about the great deal of budget cuts happening everyday in our public school systems. One of the hardest hit is in our arts and music departments. The battle over NEA funding and other important foundations that are set up to benefit our youths are being challenged by the government at an alarming rate. Cutbacks in our schools budget force students in these departments to go without necessary supplies that are essential in the learning process. I’d also like to show you why art and music education is essential to our children’s learning process, how it allows them to grow up to be well rounded citizens, and why as a country, we need to fight to save these programs.
It seems to be a continuous battle for art and music educations demand for some respect. Many legislators feel the problem in our schools is that budgets where not amended to fit the rise of costs in our economy. And because of this there simply aren’t simple ways to fund these programs. Other reasons for problems in the arts and music departments budget is that even though there is inadequate funding schools pass programs without promise of long-term support. Thus, creating a cycle of budget problems. This is our problem.
One particular agency, out of many, the NEA is facing problems that are similar to most in the art and music debates. ?The conservatives are pressing the case that, in the time of tight federal budgets, taxpayers cannot afford funding for the agency, which received a $99 million appropriation for fiscal 1997. The critics also argue that the agency continues to fund pornographic and blasphemous projects.(Freedman,p.624)? As stated by Allan Freedman of Government and Commerce magazine, sums up the views some government officials are having concerning the NEA, an organization set up to benefit those in the art community. This organization is a powerful factor in terms of art education. The organization looks at all different types of art forms, such as poetry, painting, jewelry, ceramics, as well as dealing with the issues of art education. These feelings by leading government officials are being expressed in all aspects of funding for the arts and music.
The NEA is causing quite a stir in congress, and also according to Freedman, ? ? in 1995, the agency’s foes not only managed to push through major budget cuts, but secured a pledge from the house leadership to eliminate the agency?(Freedman,p.624)? But why? Does our government really not have enough money? Of course it does, that’s not the problem, the problem is that we have not reached the point where we can have a perfect budget. Where we can distribute our funds properly. According to the same article, Rick A. Lazio of New York, one of the chief Republican NEA defenders in the house, ? We spend more on military marching bands then we do on the endowment.(Freedman,p.624)?
There are many polices, budget and funding issues that need to be looked over, some are out-dated, some miss used, and others just not effective in our educational system today. Let’s face it the ?perfect budget? will never happen, the economy is ever-changing and the same goes for dealing with and handing out the funds. Both state and government agencies who deal with the budget of our art and music programs need to deal with what is before them. If there is not enough means of funding, then outside groups need to make up for that. This is why organization such as the NEA need to be supported not fought.
Not everybody in our government is opposed to adequately funding our art and music education departments, in fact according to Arts Education and School Improvement Resources For Local and State Leaders,
The Congress finds that —
1) the arts are forms of understanding and ways of knowing that are fundamentally important to education;
2) the arts are important to excellent education and to effective school reform;
3) the most significant contribution of the arts to education reform is the transformation of teaching and learning;
4) such transformation is best realized in the context of comprehensive, systemic education reform;
5) demonstrated competency in the arts for American students is among the National Education Goals;
6) participation in performing arts activities has proven to be an effective strategy for promoting the inclusion of persons with disabilities in mainstream settings;
7) opportunities in the arts have enabled persons of all ages with disabilities to participate more fully in school and community activities;
8) the arts can motivate at-risk students to stay in school and become active participants in the educational process; and
9) arts education should be an integral part of the elementary and secondary school curriculum.
These feelings are actually abundant in Washington. In fact our president as well as Al Gore are focusing hard on the idea of reforming our educational system in order to give these programs the money they need to be effective. According to The New York Times quoting Bill Clinton, ? Education has been an important dividing line between those who are able to move ahead and those who lag behind.(Clinton,p.16)? And Bill Clinton’s budget proposals give strength to that. ? The education budget calls for spending $1.75 billion, up $450 million from this fiscal year.(Clinton,p.16)? His Plan gives a high priority to wiring classrooms for the internet, hiring more teachers, reducing class size, as well as fixing up dilapidated schools. Gore of course is following the presidents path of holding education in top priority. But with all this talk about the budget being brought up to date, where is the proof.
The lack of funding is causing a drought as far as supplies are concerned. Maybe I should reiterate, lack of resources is a better way to put it because now we are losing not only our supplies, but our programs and teachers. The dedicated school teachers we are still fortunate to have are being forced to spend a great deal of their own money on their students supplies.
According to Art Education magazine, in a study they did on classroom budgets, ? The average yearly budgets run the gamut from nothing to $9,000?73% of the respondents indicated that they normally spend their own money on additional art supplies- at an average of $348.32 per year. The range of out-of-pocket spending among these respondents extended from $25 to $5000 per-year, with 21% of the teachers stated that they spend at least $500 each school year.(p.7)?
The dedication of our teachers is incredible. In many cases these teachers are putting their students welfare and needs over their own. One such instance occurred in the San Francisco school system with a special education teacher by the name of Bill Gallimore.
? Gallimore?,makes $31,00. His students, all disabled children in grades three, four, and five, have so many basic needs that he already has spent $500 on classroom supplies this semester. Because the school district only pays teachers just once a month, Gallimore had to decide between buying the supplies or paying his phone bill. Pacific Bell turned off his phone.(Asmiov,p.A21)?
Is this the kind of thing we want our educators to have to deal with. All throughout my school career I remember my teachers having to do the same things. I remember being in high school ceramics and by January we were without clay, so my teacher had to spend her own hard earned money on us the rest of the year. You can imagine how nerve racking it would be to deal with this kind of budget. All normal lesson plans would have to be thrown out the window in order to stretch your funds to last the whole year. What possibilities are open to students interested in these subjects. I would find it hard for a child to get interested in playing an instrument with no instruments available.
Arts and music are important to our children in many ways. A child doesn’t necessarily have to grow up to be a scientist, doctor, or lawyer. There are an abundant careers available in these fields such as graphic design, music production, as well as advertising. Many studies show that the arts and music provide children with an interest in learning all of their subjects. Not only do these classes provide a break in a hard day of academics, but they give students a chance to free their minds an bodies of the stress that comes along with school in general. Also children become better all around students, being able to deal better with group skills, independent creative thought, problem solving, risk taking, along with helping some students with their self esteem and self expression. It takes a lot to perform a music ensamble, you need not only practice but to deal with all that comes along when students need to do a presentation. This kind of experience will be an asset to anybody in a career position. When students tend to take pride in their work as an artist they begin to take pride in them selves.
According to Art Education Policy Review, ?Arts education promotes self-expression, creativity, intuitive, and sensory-oriented learning. In addition, arts education fosters both discipline and cognitive and emotional development. It also contributes to the nations goals for teaching and learning: for example, improving the high school graduation rate, promoting student achievement in challenging subject matter, fostering a disciplined environment. The public discourse on U.S. competitiveness in the world economy spotlights the values of problem solving, risk taking, higher-order thinking skills, teamwork and creativity. These values are part of the arts and art education.(Hanna,p.37)?
Art and music education is important for all these reasons, the point of art and music isn’t to take a students mind off of his or her academics, but to prepare them for adulthood. The government needs to insure these programs in our school, and make sure they get the attention they deserve.
I hope I have explained the importance of funding for the Arts and music programs in our public schools. It is essential to be aware what’s going on in our schools. Our children’s and countries welfare may depend on it!
lost but in paper