Over the last few years within the education system, especially public education, there have been many debates surrounding the value, necessary funding for, and attention focused on arts educations. New programs such as the Common Core Standards, which place a heavier emphasis on math and science learning, as well as a growing focus on high school athletes, have often caused arts programs to be neglected.
Arts programs, such as marching band, drama, 3D design, and musical theater, are commonly offered at most high schools and middle schools across the country. However, funding for these types of activities is often limited, especially at public schools that are constantly struggling with budget cuts and sparse resources.
“In a recent meeting, a theater teacher in the district stated that our football coaches receive a higher stipend than the theater or music teachers that are putting in equal if not more hours with school plays and Marching Band. Then, you have our art teachers within our district that put on our Annual Art Show at the end of the year; which requires many hours preparing for, setting up, and manning the weekend of, that receive no extra payment for their time,” said 2D Art teacher Kim Bartel.
According to the district’s Activity Pay Sheet 2015-2016, for example, a varsity football coach receives $3,931, whereas a choir-orchestra advisor receives only $2,305.
Many students involved in arts programs also feel that not enough attention is placed on art education.
“The arts teach students to be unique and have their own strengths and weaknesses; that makes them artists. Leigh does focus on arts but not as much as I believe they could be. Marching band and the rest of the arts work just as hard (as sports teams do) but do not get the same recognition because people don’t know about them,” said Junior Julie Williams, member of the Leigh High School Marching Band, Winter Guard, and Wind Ensemble.
Arts programs allow students to explore the depths of their own creativity and develop talents that can flourish into passions and inspiration for future careers. For instance, according to Education Week’s study, “Art Education Matters: We Know, We Measured It”, “Arts experiences boost critical thinking, teaching students to take the time to be more careful and thorough in how they observe the world.” In their study in which researchers observed a group of students before and after exposure to an art museum or theater performance, it was concluded that after arts experiences, students were “more tolerant and empathetic.”
Through learning different art forms, such as playing a musical instrument, students can challenge themselves in a variety of ways, develop critical thinking and observation skills, as well as push the boundaries of their minds. By letting out one’s feelings through vehicles of expression such as paintbrushes or microphones, students can not only share their talents through an imaginative outlet, but they can speak out about their views of the world and stand up for what they believe in.