Lack of Arts Programs a Disservice to Students

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If you were to walk into the art room at Arlington Memorial High School, you would hear the faint sound of music playing in the background, smell the fresh paint and clay, and see a group of kids working on their art.  The problem is that this experience is only available for a portion of the day.  In the past four years many programs, such as photography, multicultural arts, Advanced Placement , advanced art, and double-block ceramics, have been cut from the arts curriculum due to budget cuts.  Now there are only two official art classes offered to high school students, leaving art teacher Annabel Perna to teach Advanced Art during her planning period.

I think that art programs are very important to learning.  When I moved up to middle school and found out that there was an Advanced Placement art class offered, I was excited to be able to take it once I was old enough. Now that I am a freshman, I am not able to take AP art, or any art class at all, because of my schedule. School artist Olivia Andrews says, “A lot of people think that art class is unnecessary and kids don’t want to take it, but the reason why kids don’t is because there are very limited offerings.  A few years ago, students would go into the art room and stay there for much of the day so they could finish their current art project.”  Now, all of the art classes (including middle school classes) are offered in the first three periods of the day.   After lunch, Perna goes to the elementary school, and the high school art room is empty.  This is one of the reasons why I can’t take an art class; if the elementary school was to get an art teacher then it would be easier for more students to take classes and more art classes could be offered.

Studies also back up the idea that art allows students to use a part  of the brain that is otherwise not used in other classes.  A 2005 report by the Rand Corporation called “A Portrait of the Visual Arts” argues that “art education does more than just give students a creative outlet. It can actually help connect them to the larger world, ultimately improving their social skills and sense of community.”  Another 2006 Solomon Museum study on art education showed a link between arts education and improved literacy skills.  

There is hope for expanded programs in the future. Principal Barnes is an advocate for the arts. He says, “Students come [into the school] with different strengths and abilities and for a lot of students, the arts are one of these strengths.” As of November 18th, Barnes confirmed that the proposed budget for next year includes funding for a full-time high school and middle school art teacher.

Based on academic studies, my own experience and the opinions of other students, I feel that if the district were to raise the budget so that more art classes could be offered, it would benefit our school and our students’ creativity. Perna says it best, “It’s just so important that students have the opportunity to be creative.  What would the world be like if humans didn’t have a creative outlet?”


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