In the past couple years, state and federal legislators have been working to control America’s spending. Although both Republicans and Democrats agree that cutting spending will help control and reverse the debt, they can’t seem to agree on what should be eliminated from the budget. One point of controversy between both parties is the cutting and eliminating of music and arts education.
There are several reasons why legislators believe that cutting art and music programs is a smart move. Some legislators and board of education members feel that art and music programs are an unnecessary luxury. After all, you don’t need to read sheet music or know the importance of Renaissance art to get by in life. Some students aren’t even interested in art or music. Many feel that funding used to support these programs should be used on core curricular subjects such as math, science and English. In addition to this, those who are in charge of creating and implementing policy feel that funds would be better used improving math and reading skills. Cutting funding to these programs would also allow schools to hire more teachers. More teachers would equate to smaller class sizes and better grades. Lastly, some people believe that art and music programs are a distraction to both students who participate in them and students who don’t.
I admit, most of these reasons are valid. As a student who has grown up taking every art and music class I could (I was in choir in high school and I loved spending time in the art room), I wouldn’t call music or art an unnecessary luxury. However, for most students, not knowing the intracity of reading sheet music and art history won’t make or break them. And yes, there are a lot of schools who are unable to keep their math, science and English classes up to par resulting in students with poor math and reading skills. Smaller class sizes and more classes focusing on these skills may be able to help.
However, we have to keep in mind that not all students are interested in math, science or English. When I was in high school I could have cared less about ions and atoms in my honors chemistry class. I also could have cared less about derivatives in calculus or writing proofs in honors geometry. A lot of the kids I knew could have cared less about the symbolism in “The Great Gatsby”, “The Scarlet Letter” or “The Crucible”. The point is, a lot of things we learn from elementary to high school are unnecessary and most kids don’t care about them. At best, reading, writing and algebra are necessities. The rest is extra. As for music being a distraction, well anything extra is a distraction. Drama classes and sports also take a chunk out of a student’s time. If you’re going to cut music and art programs on this basis then you might as well cut all extra curricular programs.
Despite the validity of these reasons, cutting music and art programs is not the answer. According to a 2003 survey by the Gallop organization, 95 percent of Americans believe that music is an important part of a student’s education. 80 percent felt that music makes students smarter and 88 percent felt it teaches students discipline. The responses to this survey were right. Research shows that those who are enrolled in art and music programs have an advantage of students who are not. These students are 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement and win awards for essay or poetry writing. They are 3 times more likely to be elected to a class office and win attendance awards. In addition to this, students who are enrolled in art and music classes attend these classes about three times as frequently than their peers. They are also more likely to read for pleasure and participate in youth groups and community service.
Music and art programs also help students later on in life as well. Students who are enrolled in art appreciation classes score higher than those who aren’t on verbal and math skills in college entrance exams. These programs also boost a person’s spatial IQ which is vital when it comes to learning complex mathematics such as calculus, science and engineering.
Although the money troubles within our schools and within our nation are real, cutting funding to art and music education is not the answer. As you can see, those who are enrolled in art and music programs do better than their peers who are not. To cheat students out of an opportunity to excel and have fun would be wrong.
Sound off. What do you think?
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