Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Do Arts Education Cuts Hurt in Other Ways?

Recently, IPS Superintendent White said $27 million in budget cuts were necessary to shore up the district’s financial outlook after property tax caps kick in – including money which would have gone to school funding.

And one of the areas in which he’s chosen to cut back is elementary school arts programs. The result would mean that kindergartners and first-graders would get art (and music) instruction from their regular teacher, rather than from a music or art teacher. Among White’s recommendations on cutting costs, this proposal has drawn the most criticism, mainly from inside IPS itself.

But strong evidence exists that links arts education with overall improved literacy skills. In a 2-year study in which hundreds of New York City 3rd graders participated in a program called Learning Through Art, students in the program did better in a number of categories of literacy and critical thinking skills – including hypothesizing and reasoning.

Surprisingly quiet in the fray are parents and youth development professionals. “They’re going to cut education, and there’s no outrage,” said one parent. Do education cuts have to be a zero sum game? What are some strategies for advocating for comprehensive educational funding during tight economic times?

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