1st place: Arjun Chawla
2nd place: Sarah Talaid
In my informative speech I spoke about how arts education can improve literacy, raise graduation rates, test scores, and attendance, and improve cognition, attention, and learning. Today I will outline what policies can be enacted to support arts education, as well as what you as students can do to support the arts.
I will start with a quote from a 2009 Report by the Center for Arts Education: “In a recent national survey of ethnically diverse high school dropouts, more than half the respondents said that the major reason for dropping out of highschool was that they felt their classes were uninteresting and irrelevant.”
If arts education continues to go unfunded the consequences run deeper than a generation who can’t read music or draw an anatomically correct human body. In our society, we need creativity. We need critical thinkers and dynamic thinkers. We need more high school graduates, and not high school dropouts, who, from my informative speech, make on average one million dollars less and have a 50% higher chance of experiencing poverty throughout their lives. By paying taxes, we invest in public schools so the people who graduate from those schools can create new ideas like facebook and microsoft and more energy efficient cars so why not also invest in arts education to keep kids in school?
Of course the solution is to provide more arts classes to all students, but it isn’t that simple:
-Schools should expand course offerings to all fours arts disciplines
-All schools should have at minimum 1 certified arts teacher on staff
-When creating schools, the formula for determining the school’s capacity should account for adequate space for arts instruction.
-All schools should receive arts funding, like NYC’s Project Arts, which “guaranteed a minimum amount of funding for arts in every school”
-Principals should be held accountable- funds for arts need to be spent on arts
-Periodic checks on schools to make sure that arts classes are provided
Although a minimum amount of funding to arts should be enacted, that is not the best way to support the arts:
-Policies should be made allowing tax benefits to people who donate to the arts. This gives sponsors incentive to donate to arts programs. From A Portrait of Visual Arts: “Indirect government support of the arts through tax policies provides considerably more funding for the arts than does direct funding. Indeed, tax policies can significantly affect donors’ behavior and the ultimate contributions to non-profit organizations. Maintaining these tax advantages is probably the single most important policy government can use to promote the arts in the future.”
I need you to picture what schools, especially “urban” schools, would be like if all of these policies come to fruition. Not only will grades and test scores increase but less students will drop out and get in trouble, and students will spend more time outside of school drawing or playing their instrument or rehearsing lines. They are much more likely to be productive in their spare time than say, smoking pot at a friend’s house.
Now picture what would happen if the current trend continues, if arts programs continue to be cut, and none of the policies I have mentioned come into play. To reiterate: more HS dropouts which means more poverty, lower test scores, lower attendance, and overall, more people who go out into the world without creativity, who can’t think outside the box. Fewer people who can make beautiful art on the graffiti wall outside Frank or awesome music that we listen to on the radio.
This is a call to action. Now, maybe you, as students are planning on becoming policy makers. Then that’s great: petition for tax benefits for donors to arts education. Demand certified arts teachers be employed in every school as well as spaces for those teachers to teach.
If you are like me, a normal student who does not plan on writing policy, here’s what you can do.
-Support and vote for candidates who do support the arts.
-Send a letter to your governor/superintendent/school board dictating the need for arts in education.
-Donate to or volunteer at your local theater/museum/concert hall/etc.
-Go. “Student attendance at arts activities is not only a way to build an appreciation of the arts, it can also give high school students new ideas about future career paths and reasons to stay in school.” My theater teacher once told me that art demands to be shared. From personal experience, theater without an audience is just rehearsal.
-Go to concerts, go to music festivals, go to plays and museums. Go to improv or stand up shows. If your friend is in a cello quartet this thursday and you aren’t doing anything: “That’s cool man! Of course I’ll make the seven minute walk to the FAC for you!” Go out into the world and find and support art. The arts will not die if there are still people to come see it.