I have an art degree so I can fully appreciate art education programs in the schools. However there are some out there who want to pull programs like this out of schools because it could lower the budget. And it's just not art that could be pulled out, it's sports programs and music programs, etc. Why would any school system want to deprive students of these enriching programs to save a buck?
When studying art students are are likely to be able to describe their thoughts in greater detail, reason better with multiple critical factors, and predict findings from the information they have been given. Students without a strong art background are less likely to be able to think on those levels or to reach such levels efficiently. (source)
Here are some reasons that art education is a benefit to students in the classroom.
It's been proven that early exposure to visual art, music, or drama promotes activity in the brain.
Art helps children understand other subjects much more clearly—from math and science, to language arts and geography.
Art nurtures inventiveness as it engages children in a process that aids in the development of self-esteem, self-discipline, cooperation, and self-motivation.
Participating in art activities helps children to gain the tools necessary for understanding human experience, adapting to and respecting others' ways of working and thinking, developing creative problem-solving skills, and communicating thoughts and ideas in a variety of ways.
Wow! That's a lot of benefits from taking art! We must keep these programs in our schools, so if you ever have an opportunity to voice your opinion locally, do it! If we take a stand for important programs like this, they will listen to us!
Henrico County (a county just outside of Richmond, Virginia) announced its budget cuts last week for the 2010 school year. I feel like I can kiss my future teaching position further into the future after viewing the areas that the division is cutting down on. Here is the breakdown of what unfortunately made the cut.
$6.2 million: cut about 98 teachers and increase average class size by .75 $2.7 million: general operating supplies $1.6 million: delay school bus replacement purchases $1.4 million: cut about 22 Central Office positions $1.2 million: delay textbook replacement $759,000: reduced stipend and substitute pay $631,000: staff development $481,894: equipment $397,012: contract realignment $372,000: middle school laptop savings $276,000: construction and maintenance $248,400: testing expenses $241,621: leave vacant three instructional positions $162,000: community organizations $87,850: visiting international faculty $71,482: mileage reimbursement
Additional options for reductions: $1 million: reduced fuel spending based on current prices $252,670: reduce Central Office take-home vehicles $784,000: eliminate purchase of eight buses for two new schools in the fall $250,000: reduce staff development tuition reimbursement $27,932: 2 percent additional reduction for a total of 6 percent to Maggie L. Walker Governor's School $22,488: 2 percent additional reduction for a total of 6 percent to the Math Science Innovation Center Total: $19.2 million (Source: Richmond Times Dispatch)
I'm assuming that since 98 teachers are getting cut, there will be no hiring. This is extremely frustrating to me. I finally decide that I want to be a teacher, go through school and then find out that there won't be jobs when I'm ready to start teaching. Substitute positions will also be lowered, eliminating even more opportunities. But, you know who I feel really sorry for? The students! I feel that the children are the ones that truly suffer when you start to take away from their education. Textbook replacement will be delayed so our kids, so they will keep learning out of the same ones, not updated and thus not modern enough. School bus purchases will also be delayed, so the older buses will still stay in use. I find this sad.
When will the economy correct itself so that we can turn around the budget? I wish that I knew. Seeing numbers like this is truly disappointing. I was even watching the news on the budget cuts one evening and they said that the "light at the end of the tunnel had been turned off." Ouch.
This week it came out that President Obama wants to "rewrite" the No Child Left Behind framework that was put into place by the Bush administration in 2001. The purpose of the NCLB act was created "to close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so no child is left behind." Now the Education secretary Anne Duncan has said that the NCLB act has "significant flaws, in part because it puts too much emphasis on standardized tests and unfairly brands some schools as failures." Another interesting piece of information is that Obama wants to "ease up" on the federal demands of NCLB. Can this be done?
I have learned about NCLB in education class but I would truly need to sit down with the nitty gritty details of the act to truly understand everything that it encompasses. Do I think that there has been too great an emphasis placed on standardized testing? Of course. It seems to me that teachers I know can't simply teach a lesson to teach it because they know they must drill content because SOL's are a'coming. We can't take a day to teach students something for the sake of learning something new if it isn't required by the state as a standard. This, I get is frustrating. But my real question is, how can we say we are going to "ease up" on the federal demands? If we do ease up, are we letting our students down? There are high achieving schools and there are low achieving schools. Due to the conditions that make the schools what they are, is it fair to just simply ease up? Was NCLB too strenuous a law that we now need to ease up? I truly don't know the answer, but I'm hoping to understand the debate further when there is more news coverage of the issue.
When I think about inner city schools, will this legislature really change things there? I don't know. I have a friend that teaches in a low-income school district and some of her students are more concerned with whether or not they will have food on the table that night or that their mother's boyfriend will do something to the children while the mother is sleeping. Will revising NCLB change the schooling of these students? Is simply "easing up" the right answer?
I created this podcast because the concept of recycling is so important to teach our students so that we can make them consciously aware of conservation. The concept of this podcast is taken from the book Recycle!: A Handbook for Kids by Gail Gibbons. The book explains where our garbage goes and that landfills won't always be able to handle the large amounts of garbage that we throw away. Recycle goes into detail about which materials are recyclable and how these products get re-made to turn into new items. I used images to coordinate with the different ideas in the book and also entertaining music that would appeal to children. Would be a great resource for a VA SOL 3.1 (d) conservation and resource renewal.
All images via Google images and Yahoo images through Creative Commons